I was just thinking about how I have always trained my palette with combinations of spice, I know I like cumin and ancho along with garlic and a little cayenne when I am making chili, and I have ground combinations of cumin seed, corriander, and mace with chiles to create curries, but these are pre-determined ideas. The combinations are already known, and at the end of the day you really are tasting the balance of one spice against another if you are expressing yourself at all and not following some list of exact measurements in a recipe (a concept which I despise for the most part)
I was thinking, to really start to educate my palette I need to stop cooking, and start experimenting. I have a spice grinder and because of some of the Indian cooking I've done I really believe that spice should be obtained whole if possible, and ground when needed. One of the reasons being that toasting whole spices prior to grinding results in a variation in flavor, one not afforded if the spice is already ground. Also there is a question of freshness with previously ground spice.
With that out of the way, I am wondering what medium would be a good delivery for the ground spice? I was thinking mayonnaise, since it is rich, and has some oil properties without too much change in flavor. I don't want to just lick a spoon of ground spice, I need to thin it somehow, in a way that can be consistent and fairly neutral across many many spices. Any other suggestions?