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Spice Reference Site


Spice Reference Guide - 'The Spice Rack'
The 'Spice Rack' is our list of all known, available spices.  It includes a complete description and photos of each spice.  More facts are also included. [read more...]

Spice Resources - Books About Spices
More information about spices and their origins, history and uses. [read more...]

Recipes - Using Spices In Foods

Exotic Recipes - see examples of some exotic dishes!
Traditional Recipes - the most common uses of spices, by popularity.

History of Spices
The word 'spice' wasn't used widely until the end of the 12th century when it was established, deriving from the Latin word, 'species' to represent a wide variety of products.  The use of herbs probably dates back to humanity itself. Primitive man wrapped meat in the leaves of bushes, when they accidentally discovered how doing so caused a transfer of acids, chemicals and flavors to the meat, as did some tree bark, and berries, nuts and seeds.

Spices were long used as a form of currency between kingdoms, and have been the catalysts for some of the greatest explorations of discovery like the one a sailor named Christopher Columbus took in 1492.  The first spice expeditions were established to ensure that these coveted commodities would always be in long supply.  Around 1000 B.C., legend tells that Queen Sheba visited King Solomon in Jerusalem to offer him '120 measures of gold, many spices, and precious stones.'  A handful of the cardamon spice was worth a year's wages for laborers, and many slaves were bought and sold for just a few cups of peppercorns.

Arab traders were the first visitors to introduce the use of spices to Europeans.  They protected the source of their supply stocks by spinning fantastic tales of danger and death to obtain the rare spices, even though their supplies were plentiful and stockpiled back in their home countries (in today's commodity market, this sounds a little familiar when compared to the Arab oil fields). 

Pepper Reigns in the Roman Empire
The Roman Empire, whose boundaries progressively extended from one side of the Mediterranean to the other, couldn't ignore these bewitching spices. Cleopatra herself used a "very stimulating" food to seduce Caesar. Huge quantities of saffron were strewn on the streets of Rome to celebrate Nero's entrance into the city.

The reputed excesses of ancient Roman food consumption were apparent in the wide variety of seasonings used in the meals of the rich.  Pepper, the Roman spice of choice, was as omnipresent as garum (a fish-based sauce) on the Roman tables. Without a doubt, spices had become status symbols. [read more...]

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