Cumin is the "secret" spice I toss into just about everything - Indian food, Mexican food, Coney Island chili, chutney, soups, black beans, lentils, meatballs and more. Last night while watching my favorite Food Network doubleheader, Rachael Ray cooked it into Moroccan food and said that cumin was rumored to cause people to lose their inhibitions; casinos piped in the scent so their patrons would gamble without guilt.
Its lore is almost as varied as the many cuisines which feature the spice. According to McCormick, it keeps chickens and lovers from wandering. The ancient Romans and Greeks saw cumin seeds as symbols of greed and miserliness. Cumin is even recommended by some for nausea (I found it in one morning sickness remedy last fall). Around my house, when cumin is in the air, everyone knows I'm cooking up something lush - and no one goes out for Burgerville.