Spices – Defining Your Culinary Culture
We all use spices, some more than others. If you are a good ol’ meat and potatoes cook, salt and pepper are your basics. Perhaps you use cinnamon, chili powder, and paprika on a regularly. The fact is, most of us cook according to our ethnicity – Italian, Indian, French, Hungarian, while others cook according to their culinary curiosity. Either way, if you know your way around the kitchen, you know that spices can make or break a dish.
Even if you are, in fact, a basic cook and spices are an enigma to you – but you wish they weren’t, you might like to get to know My Spice Sage, an online site that has every possible spice and explains everything about them from tastes, aromas, uses and what goes with each type of cuisine. Their blog gives you all kinds of great recipes and suggestions on how to enhance your culinary base.
Mini Spice History
For centuries, the Spice Trade is what drove commerce, world exploration and political balance . Tradings in black pepper, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and turmeric were quite often used as currency.
Here is a fact you might not know. Nutmeg and mace are responsible for New Yorkers speaking English today and not Dutch.
New Amsterdam was settled by the Dutch in the early 1600 s. However, the English, who had settled most of the surrounding area wanted this port as their own. The two countries were in a violent war over control of the seas and trade routes and to partially settle their disputes, the Treaty of Breda was enacted about 1667. New Amsterdam became New York in a trade for the strategic island of Run, one of the Spice Islands in the Banda Islands in Indonesia which produced great spices, the majority of which were nutmeg and mace. For more on the history of the Spice Trade, take a look at Nathaniel’s Nutmeg, a book well worth the read.
When you shop for spices, reach for them while you are cooking or are ready to try a new recipe or cooking style, remember there is a rich history in those spices you are shaking. It might just enrich your dining experience!
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