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A spice is a
seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first double album, it was released to generally positiv ...

seed
,
fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the ...

fruit
,
root In vascular plant Vascular plants (from Latin ''vasculum'': duct), also known as Tracheophyta (the tracheophytes , from Greek τραχεῖα ἀρτηρία ''trācheia artēria'' 'windpipe' + φυτά ''phutá'' 'plants'), form a large group ...

root
,
bark Bark may refer to: * Bark (botany), an outer layer of a woody plant * Bark (sound), a vocalization of some animals Places * Bark, Germany * Bark, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, Poland Arts, entertainment, and media * ''Bark'' (Jefferson Airp ...
, or other
plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can later be released to fuel ...

plant
substance primarily used for
flavor Flavor, or flavour, is the perceptual Perception (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area arou ...

flavor
ing or
color Color (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American Engli ...

color
ing food. Spices are distinguished from
herb In general use, herbs are a widely distributed and widespread group of plants, excluding vegetables Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other animals as food. The original meaning is still commonly used and is appl ...

herb
s, which are the leaves, flowers, or stems of plants used for
flavor Flavor, or flavour, is the perceptual Perception (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area arou ...

flavor
ing or as a
garnish Garnish may refer to: * To decorate an object or space by the addition of ornaments * Garnishment, withholding of one's wages by one's employer to pay one's debt owed to a third party * Garnish Island, is an island in Glengarriff harbour (County Co ...
. Spices are sometimes used in
medicine Medicine is the science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (proced ...

medicine
, religious rituals,
cosmetics Cosmetics are constituted mixtures of chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and take ...
or
perfume Perfume (, ; french: parfum) is a mixture of fragrance, fragrant essential oils or aroma compounds (fragrances), Fixative (perfumery), fixatives and solvents, usually in liquid form, used to give the human body, animals, food, objects, and livin ...

perfume
production. For example,
vanilla Vanilla is a spice A spice is a seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first d ...

vanilla
is commonly used as an ingredient in
fragrance An aroma compound, also known as an odorant, aroma, fragrance or flavor, is a chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entity, molecular entities) composed of atoms fr ...
manufacturing. A spice may be available in several forms: fresh, whole dried, or pre-ground dried. Generally, spices are dried. Spices may be ground into a powder for convenience. A whole dried spice has the longest shelf life, so it can be purchased and stored in larger amounts, making it cheaper on a per-serving basis. A fresh spice, such as
ginger Ginger (''Zingiber officinale'') is a flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anythi ...

ginger
, is usually more flavorful than its dried form, but fresh spices are more expensive and have a much shorter shelf life. Some spices are not always available either fresh or whole, for example
turmeric Turmeric (pronounced , also ) is a flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything o ...
, and often must be purchased in ground form. Small seeds, such as fennel and mustard seeds, are often used both whole and in powder form. Most herbs and spices have substantial
antioxidant Antioxidants are that inhibit , a that can produce and s that may damage the of organisms. Antioxidants such as s or (vitamin C) may act to inhibit these reactions. To balance , plants and animals maintain complex systems of overlapping an ...

antioxidant
activity, owing primarily to phenolic compounds, especially
flavonoids Flavonoids (or bioflavonoids; from the Latin word ''flavus'', meaning yellow, their color in nature) are a class of polyphenol Polyphenols () are a large family of naturally occurring s characterized by multiples of units. They are abunda ...

flavonoids
, which influence nutrition through many pathways, including affecting the absorption of other nutrients. One study found
cumin Cumin ( or , or https://www.lexico.com/definition/cumi) (''Cuminum cyminum'') is a flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived fro ...

cumin
and fresh
ginger Ginger (''Zingiber officinale'') is a flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anythi ...

ginger
to be highest in antioxidant activity.
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

India
contributes to 75% of global spice production. This is reflected culturally through their
cuisine A cuisine is a style of cooking Cooking or cookery is the art, science, and craft of using heat to Outline of food preparation, prepare food for consumption. Cooking techniques and ingredients vary widely across the Earth, world, from grill ...

cuisine
and historically, the
spice trade The spice trade involved historical civilizations in Asia Asia () is a landmass variously described as part of Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified b ...
developed throughout the Indian subcontinent, in
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
and later with the Middle East. Europe's demand for spice later encouraged further exploration, and cuisines like the French transforming as a result.


Etymology

The word ''spice'' comes from the Old French word ''espice'', which became ''epice'', and which came from the Latin root ''spec'', the noun referring to "appearance, sort, kind": ''
species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individu ...

species
'' has the same root.


History


Early history

The spice trade developed throughout the Indian subcontinent by at earliest 2000 BCE with
cinnamon Cinnamon is a spice SPICE ("Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis")Nagel, L. W, and Pederson, D. O., ''SPICE (Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis)'', Memorandum No. ERL-M382, University of California, Berkeley ...

cinnamon
and
black pepper Black pepper (''Piper nigrum'') is a flowering A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive Reproduction (or procreation or breeding) is the biological process by which new individual organisms – "offs ...

black pepper
, and in
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
with herbs and pepper. The Egyptians used herbs for
mummification A mummy is a dead human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, B ...
and their demand for exotic spices and herbs helped stimulate world trade. By 1000 BCE, medical systems based upon herbs could be found in
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
,
Korea Korea is a region in East Asia. Since 1945, it has been divided between two countries at or near the 38th parallel north, 38th parallel, North Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and South Korea (the Republic of Korea). Korea co ...

Korea
, and
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

India
. Early uses were connected with magic, medicine, religion, tradition, and preservation.
Clove Cloves are the aromatic flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproduction, reproductive structure found in flowering plants (plants of the division Magnoliophyta, also called angiosperms). The biological function of ...

Clove
s were used in
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
by 1700 BCE. The ancient Indian
epic Epic commonly refers to: * Epic poetry, a long narrative poem celebrating heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation * Epic film, a genre of film with heroic elements Epic or EPIC may also refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media ...
Ramayana ''Rāmāyana'' (; sa, रामायणम्, ) is one of the two major Sanskrit literature, Sanskrit Indian epic poetry, epics of ancient India and important text of Hinduism, the other being the ''Mahabharata, Mahābhārata''. The epic ...

Ramayana
mentions cloves. The
Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, ...
had cloves in the 1st century CE, as
Pliny the Elder #REDIRECT Pliny the Elder#REDIRECT Pliny the Elder Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23/2479), called Pliny the Elder (), was a Roman author, a naturalist Natural history is a domain of inquiry involving organisms, including animals, fungus, fungi, ...

Pliny the Elder
wrote about them. The earliest written records of spices come from ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Indian cultures. The
Ebers Papyrus The Ebers Papyrus, also known as Papyrus Ebers, is an Egyptian medical papyrus of herbal knowledge dating to circa 1550 BC. Among the oldest and most important medical papyri of ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization of Ancient ...
from early Egypt dating from 1550 B.C.E. describes some eight hundred different medicinal remedies and numerous medicinal procedures. Historians believe that
nutmeg Nutmeg is the seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first double album, it was release ...

nutmeg
, which originates from the
Banda Islands The Banda Islands ( id, Kepulauan Banda) are a volcanic group A volcanic group (or, equivalently, a volcanic complex) is a collection of related volcano A volcano is a rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object, such as Earth, that ...
in
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
, was introduced to Europe in the 6th century BCE. Indonesian merchants traveled around China, India, the Middle East, and the east coast of Africa.
Arab The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, : , Arabic pronunciation: , plural ar, عَرَبٌ, : , Arabic pronunciation: ) are an mainly inhabiting the . In modern usage the term refers to those who originate from an Arab co ...

Arab
merchants facilitated the routes through the Middle East and India. This resulted in the Egyptian
port city The Porticciolo del Cedas port in Trieste.html"_;"title="Barcola_near_Trieste">Barcola_near_Trieste,_a_small_local_port A_port_is_a_ Barcola_near_Trieste,_a_small_local_port">Trieste.html"_;"title="Barcola_near_Trieste">Barcola_near ...
of
Alexandria Alexandria ( or ; ar, الإسكندرية ; arz, اسكندرية ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northern Afro-Asia ...

Alexandria
being the main trading center for spices. The most important discovery prior to the European spice trade was the
monsoon A monsoon () is traditionally a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation In meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences which includes atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric ph ...

monsoon
winds (40 CE). Sailing from Eastern spice cultivators to Western European consumers gradually replaced the land-locked spice routes once facilitated by the Middle East Arab caravans. In the story of
Genesis Genesis may refer to: Literature and comics * Genesis (DC Comics), a 1997 DC Comics crossover * Genesis (Marvel Comics), a Marvel Comics villain * Genesis, a fictional character from the ''Preacher (comics), Preacher'' comic-book series * ''Genes ...
,
Joseph Joseph is a common masculine given name, derived from the Hebrew Yosef (יוֹסֵף). The form "Joseph" is used mostly in English, French and partially German-speaking (alongside "Josef") countries. This spelling is also found as a variant in th ...
was sold into slavery by his brothers to spice merchants. In the biblical poem
Song of Solomon The Song of Songs (Hebrew: ''Šīr hašŠīrīm'', Greek language, Greek and grc, ᾎσμα ᾀσμάτων, translit=Âsma asmátōn; la, Canticum canticorum), also Song of Solomon, Canticle of Canticles, or Canticles, is one of the ''The Fiv ...
, the male speaker compares his beloved to many forms of spices.


Middle Ages

Spices were among the most demanded and expensive products available in Europe in the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
, /sup> the most common being
black pepper Black pepper (''Piper nigrum'') is a flowering A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive Reproduction (or procreation or breeding) is the biological process by which new individual organisms – "offs ...

black pepper
,
cinnamon Cinnamon is a spice SPICE ("Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis")Nagel, L. W, and Pederson, D. O., ''SPICE (Simulation Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis)'', Memorandum No. ERL-M382, University of California, Berkeley ...

cinnamon
(and the cheaper alternative
cassia Cassia typically refers to cassia bark, the spice made from the bark of East Asian evergreen trees. Cassia may also refer to: Plants ;Cinnamon trees * ''Cinnamomum cassia'' (, ''ròuguì''), the cassia or Chinese cinnamon, found in southern China ...
),
cumin Cumin ( or , or https://www.lexico.com/definition/cumi) (''Cuminum cyminum'') is a flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived fro ...

cumin
,
nutmeg Nutmeg is the seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first double album, it was release ...

nutmeg
,
ginger Ginger (''Zingiber officinale'') is a flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anythi ...

ginger
and
cloves Cloves are the aromatic flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproduction, reproductive structure found in flowering plants (plants of the division Magnoliophyta, also called angiosperms). The biological function of ...
. Given medieval medicine's main theory of
humorism Humorism, the humoral theory, or humoralism, was a system of medicine detailing a supposed makeup and workings of the human body, adopted by Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Mo ...

humorism
, spices and herbs were indispensable to balance "humors" in food, /sup> a daily basis for good health at a time of recurrent
pandemic A pandemic (from , , "all" and , , "local people" the 'crowd') is an of an that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple or worldwide, affecting a substantial number of individuals. A widespread disease with a stable number o ...

pandemic
s. In addition to being desired by those using medieval medicine, the European elite also craved spices in the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
. An example of the European aristocracy's demand for spice comes from the
King of Aragon This is a list of the kings and queens of Aragon. The Kingdom of Aragon was created sometime between 950 and 1035 when the County of Aragon, which had been acquired by the Kingdom of Navarre in the tenth century, was separated from Navarre in ...
, who invested substantial resources into bringing back spices to
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
in the 12th century. He was specifically looking for spices to put in
wine Wine is an alcoholic drink typically made from Fermentation in winemaking, fermented grapes. Yeast in winemaking, Yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and converts it to ethanol and carbon dioxide, releasing heat in the process. Different ...

wine
, and was not alone among European monarchs at the time to have such a desire for spice. Spices were all imported from plantations in Asia and Africa, which made them expensive. From the 8th until the 15th century, the
Republic of Venice The Republic of Venice ( it, Repubblica di Venezia; vec, Repùblega de Venèsia) or Venetian Republic ( it, Repubblica Veneta; vec, Repùblega Vèneta), traditionally known as La Serenissima ( en, Most Serene Republic Most Serene Republic ( ...
had the monopoly on spice trade with the Middle East, and along with it the neighboring Italian
maritime republics The maritime republics ( it, repubbliche marinare), also called merchant republics ( it, repubbliche mercantili), of the Mediterranean Basin were Thalassocracy, thalassocratic city-states in Italy in the Middle Ages, Italy and Dalmatia during th ...
and city-states. The trade made the region rich. It has been estimated that around 1,000  tons of pepper and 1,000  tons of the other common spices were imported into Western Europe each year during the
Late Middle Ages The Late Middle Ages or Late Medieval Period was the period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in musical comp ...
. The value of these goods was the equivalent of a yearly supply of grain for 1.5 million people. The most exclusive was
saffron Saffron () is a spice derived from the flower of ''Crocus sativus ''Crocus sativus'', commonly known as saffron crocus, or autumn crocus, is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classificat ...

saffron
, used as much for its vivid yellow-red color as for its flavor. Spices that have now fallen into obscurity in European cuisine include
grains of paradise ''Aframomum melegueta'' is a species in the ginger family, Zingiberaceae, and closely related to cardamom. Its seeds are used as a spice (ground or whole); it imparts a Pungency, pungent, Black pepper, black-pepper-like flavor with hints of cit ...

grains of paradise
, a relative of
cardamom Cardamom (), sometimes cardamon or cardamum, is a spice made from the seeds of several plants in the genus (biology), genera ''Elettaria'' and ''Amomum'' in the family Zingiberaceae. Both genera are native to the Indian subcontinent and Indone ...

cardamom
which mostly replaced pepper in late medieval north French cooking,
long pepper Long pepper (''Piper longum''), sometimes called Indian long pepper or ''pipli'', is a flowering plant, flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. Long pepper has ...
,
mace Mace may refer to: Arts and entertainment * Mace (G.I. Joe), a fictional character in the G.I. Joe universe * Mace, a fictional character in the 1995 film ''Strange Days (film), Strange Days'' * Mace, a fictional character in the 2007 film ''Sunsh ...

mace
,
spikenard 130px, Spikenard, ''Nardostachys jatamansi'', essential oil in a clear glass vial Spikenard, also called nard, nardin, and muskroot, is a class of aromatic amber-colored essential oil derived from ''Nardostachys jatamansi'', a flowering plant in ...
,
galangal Galangal () is a common name for several tropical rhizomatous spices. Differentiation The word ''galangal'', or its variant ''galanga'', can refer in common usage to the aromatic rhizome Lotus rhizome peeled and sliced In botany B ...

galangal
and
cubeb ''Piper cubeba'', cubeb or tailed pepper is a plant in genus ''Piper (plant), Piper'', cultivated for its fruit and essential oil. It is mostly grown in Java (island), Java and Sumatra, hence sometimes called Java pepper. The fruits are gathered ...
.


Early Modern Period

Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
and
Portugal Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=yes ), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who ...

Portugal
were interested in seeking new routes to trade in spices and other valuable products from Asia. The control of trade routes and the spice-producing regions were the main reasons that
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
navigator
Vasco da Gama Vasco da Gama, 1st Count of Vidigueira (, ; ; c. 1460s – 24 December 1524), was a Portugal in the Age of Discovery, Portuguese explorer and the first European to reach India by sea. His initial voyage to India by way of Cape of Good Hope (1 ...

Vasco da Gama
sailed to
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

India
in 1499. /sup> When da Gama discovered the pepper market in
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

India
, he was able to secure peppers for a much cheaper price than the ones demanded by
Venice Venice ( ; it, Venezia ; vec, Venesia or ) is a city in northeastern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding ...

Venice
. At around the same time,
Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus * lij, Cristoffa C(or)ombo * es, Cristóbal Colón * pt, Cristóvão Colombo * ca, Cristòfor (or ) * la, Christophorus Columbus. (; born between 25 August and 31 October 1451, died 20 May 1506) was an Italian ...

Christopher Columbus
returned from the
New World The "New World" is a term for the majority of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The re ...
. He described to
investor An investor is a person that allocates capital with the expectation of a future financial return (profit) or to gain an advantage (interest). Through this allocated capital most of the time the investor purchases some species of property. Types ...
s new spices available there. Another source of competition in the spice trade during the 15th and 16th century was the from the maritime republic of
Dubrovnik Dubrovnik (), historically known as Ragusa ( see notes on naming), is a city on the Adriatic Sea The Adriatic Sea () is a body of water separating the from the . The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the , extending from the (where it co ...

Dubrovnik
in southern Croatia. The military prowess of
Afonso de Albuquerque Afonso de Albuquerque, Duke of Goa (; 1453 – 16 December 1515) (also spelled Aphonso or Alfonso) was a Portuguese general, admiral, and statesman. He served as Governor of Portuguese India from 1509 to 1515, during which he expanded Portugues ...

Afonso de Albuquerque
(1453–1515) allowed the Portuguese to take control of the sea routes to India. In 1506, he took the island of
Socotra Socotra or Soqotra (; ar, سُقُطْرَىٰ ), located between the Guardafui Channel and the Arabian Sea, is the largest of the four islands in the Socotra Archipelago. The territory is located near major shipping routes and is officially ...

Socotra
in the mouth of the
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a Northe ...

Red Sea
and, in 1507,
Ormuz The Kingdom of Ormus (also known as Hormoz; fa, هرمز; pt, Ormuz) was located in the eastern side of the Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=xalij-e fârs, lit=Gulf of Fars, ) is a mediterranean sea T ...
in the
Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=xalij-e fârs, lit=Gulf of , ) is a in . The body of water is an extension of the () through the and lies between to the northeast and the to the southwest.United Nations Group of Exper ...
. Since becoming the
viceroy A viceroy () is an official who runs a polity in the name of and as the representative of the monarch of the territory. The term derives from the Latin prefix ''vice-'', meaning "in the place of" and the French word ''roy'', meaning "king". A ...

viceroy
of the
Indies The East Indies (or simply the Indies), is a term used in historical narratives of the Age of Discovery The Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration (sometimes also, particularly regionally, Age of Contact or Contact Period), is an info ...

Indies
, he took
Goa Goa () is a state on the southwestern coast of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous country, the ...

Goa
in India in 1510, and
Malacca Malacca, officially the State of Malacca, is a Federated state, state in Malaysia located in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula, next to the Strait of Malacca. Its capital is Malacca City, dubbed the Historic City, which has been listed ...

Malacca
on the
Malay peninsula The Malay Peninsula (Malay Malay may refer to: Languages * Malay language or Bahasa Melayu, a major Austronesian language spoken in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore ** History of the Malay language#Old Malay, the Malay language f ...
in 1511. The Portuguese could now trade directly with
Siam ) , royal_anthem = '' Sansoen Phra Barami''( en, "Glorify His prestige") , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Bangkok Bangkok is the capital and most populous city of Thailand. It is known in Thai language, ...

Siam
,
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
, and the
Maluku Islands The Maluku Islands or the Moluccas () (''Molukken'') are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island An island (or isle) is an isolated piec ...

Maluku Islands
. With the discovery of the New World came new spices, including
allspice Allspice, also known as Jamaica pepper, myrtle pepper, pimenta, or pimento, is the dried unripe berry A berry is a small, pulpy, and often edible fruit In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants (also known ...
,
chili pepper The chili pepper (also chile, chile pepper, chilli pepper, or chilli), from ' (), is the of plants from the ' which are members of the family, . Chili peppers are widely used in many cuisines as a to add to dishes. and related compound ...

chili pepper
s,
vanilla Vanilla is a spice A spice is a seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first d ...

vanilla
, and
chocolate Chocolate is a food product made from roasted and ground Theobroma cacao, cacao pods, that is available as a liquid, solid or paste, on its own or as a flavoring agent in other foods. Cacao has been consumed in some form since at least the Ol ...

chocolate
. This development kept the spice trade, with America as a latecomer with its new seasonings, profitable well into the 19th century.


Function

Spices are primarily used as food
flavor Flavor, or flavour, is the perceptual Perception (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area arou ...

flavor
ing. They are also used to perfume
cosmetics Cosmetics are constituted mixtures of chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and take ...
and
incense Incense is aromatic biotic material that releases fragrant smoke when burnt. The term is used for either the material or the aroma. Incense is used for aesthetic reasons, religious worship, aromatherapy, meditation, and ceremony. It may also be u ...

incense
. At various periods, many spices have been believed to have medicinal value. Finally, since they are expensive, rare, and exotic commodities, their
conspicuous consumption In sociology and in economics, the term conspicuous consumption describes and explains the consumer A consumer is a person or a group who intends to order, orders, or uses purchased goods, products, or services Service may refer to: Activitie ...
has often been a symbol of wealth and social class.Paul Freedman, ''Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination'', 2008, , p. 2-3


Preservative claim

It is often claimed that spices were used either as
food preservatives Food preservation includes food processing practices which prevent the growth of microorganisms, such as yeasts (although some methods work by introducing benign bacteria or fungi to the food), and slow the redox, oxidation of fats that cause Ranc ...

food preservatives
or to mask the taste of spoiled meat, especially in the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
. This is false. In fact, spices are rather ineffective as preservatives as compared to salting,
smoking Smoking is a practice in which a substance is burned and the resulting smoke Smoke is a collection of airborne and es emitted when a material undergoes or , together with the quantity of air that is or otherwise mixed into the ma ...
,
pickling Pickling is the process of preserving or extending the shelf life of food Food is any substance consumed to provide Nutrient, nutritional support for an organism. Food is usually of plant, animal or Fungus, fungal origin, and contains ess ...
, or
drying Drying is a process consisting of the removal of water or another by from a , or . This process is often used as a final production step before selling or packaging products. To be considered "dried", the final product must be solid, in the for ...

drying
, and are ineffective in covering the taste of spoiled meat. Moreover, spices have always been comparatively expensive: in 15th century Oxford, a whole pig cost about the same as a pound of the cheapest spice, pepper. There is also no evidence of such use from contemporary cookbooks: "Old cookbooks make it clear that spices weren't used as a preservative. They typically suggest adding spices toward the end of the cooking process, where they could have no preservative effect whatsoever."Michael Krondl, ''The Taste of Conquest: The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice'', 2007, , p. 6 In fact,
Cristoforo di Messisbugo Cristoforo di Messisbugo or Cristoforo da Messisbugo (15th century – 1548) was a steward of the House of Este The House of Este (, , ) was an Italian city-states, Italian princely family, linked with several contemporary royal dynasties, inclu ...
suggested in the 16th century that pepper may speed up spoilage. Though some spices have antimicrobial properties in vitro, pepper—by far the most common spice—is relatively ineffective, and in any case, salt, which is far cheaper, is also far more effective.


Classification and types


Culinary herbs and spices


Botanical basis

* Seeds, such as fennel, Mustard seeds, mustard,
nutmeg Nutmeg is the seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first double album, it was release ...

nutmeg
, and
black pepper Black pepper (''Piper nigrum'') is a flowering A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive Reproduction (or procreation or breeding) is the biological process by which new individual organisms – "offs ...

black pepper
* Fruits, such as Cayenne pepper and Chimayo pepper * Arils, such as Mace (spice), mace (part of nutmeg plant fruit) * Bark (botany), Barks, such as Cinnamomum zeylanicum, True Cinnamon and
cassia Cassia typically refers to cassia bark, the spice made from the bark of East Asian evergreen trees. Cassia may also refer to: Plants ;Cinnamon trees * ''Cinnamomum cassia'' (, ''ròuguì''), the cassia or Chinese cinnamon, found in southern China ...
* Flower buds, such as
cloves Cloves are the aromatic flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproduction, reproductive structure found in flowering plants (plants of the division Magnoliophyta, also called angiosperms). The biological function of ...
* Stigma (botany), Stigmas, such as
saffron Saffron () is a spice derived from the flower of ''Crocus sativus ''Crocus sativus'', commonly known as saffron crocus, or autumn crocus, is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classificat ...

saffron
* Roots and rhizomes, such as
turmeric Turmeric (pronounced , also ) is a flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything o ...
,
ginger Ginger (''Zingiber officinale'') is a flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anythi ...

ginger
and
galangal Galangal () is a common name for several tropical rhizomatous spices. Differentiation The word ''galangal'', or its variant ''galanga'', can refer in common usage to the aromatic rhizome Lotus rhizome peeled and sliced In botany B ...

galangal
* Resins, such as asafoetida


Common spice mixtures

* Advieh (Iran) * Baharat (Arab world, and the Middle East in general) * Berbere (Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia) * Bumbu (seasoning), Bumbu (Indonesian cuisine, Indonesia) * Cajun cuisine#Blended, Cajun (United States) * Chaat masala ( Indian subcontinent) * Chili pepper, Chili Chili powder, powder and crushed red pepper (Cayenne pepper, Cayenne, Chipotle, Jalapeño, New Mexico chile, New Mexico, Tabasco pepper, Tabasco, and List of Capsicum cultivars, other cultivars) * Curry powder * Five-spice powder (
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
) * Garam masala (Indian subcontinent) * Harissa (North Africa) * Hawaij (Yemen) * Jamaican jerk spice, Jerk spice (Jamaica) * Khmeli suneli (Georgia, former U.S.S.R.) * Masala (spice), Masala (a generic name for any mix used in the Indian subcontinent) * Mixed spice (United Kingdom) * Panch phoron (Indian subcontinent) * Pumpkin pie spice (United States) * Quatre épices (France) * Ras el hanout (North Africa) * Sharena sol (literally "colorful salt", Bulgaria) * Shichimi, Shichimi tōgarashi (Japan) * Speculaas (Belgium and Netherlands) * Thuna Paha (Sri Lanka) * Vegeta (food), Vegeta (Croatia) * Za'atar (Middle East)


Handling

For ground spices, to grind a whole spice, the classic tool is mortar and pestle. Less labor-intensive tools are more common now: a microplane or fine grater can be used to grind small amounts; a blade grinder, coffee grinderOther types of coffee grinders, such as a burr mill, can grind spices just as well as coffee beans. is useful for larger amounts. A frequently used spice such as black pepper may merit storage in its own hand grinder or Burr mill#Manual burr grinders, mill. The flavor of a spice is derived in part from compounds (volatile oils) that oxidize or evaporate when exposed to air. Grinding a spice greatly increases its surface area and so increases the rates of oxidation and evaporation. Thus, the flavor is maximized by storing a spice whole and grinding when needed. The shelf life of a whole dry spice is roughly two years; of a ground spice roughly six months. The "flavor life" of a ground spice can be much shorter.Nutmeg, in particular, suffers from grinding and the flavor will degrade noticeably in a matter of days. Ground spices are better stored away from light.Light contributes to oxidation processes. Some flavor elements in spices are soluble in water; many are soluble in oil or fat. As a general rule, the flavors from a spice take time to infuse into the food so spices are added early in preparation. This contrasts to
herb In general use, herbs are a widely distributed and widespread group of plants, excluding vegetables Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other animals as food. The original meaning is still commonly used and is appl ...

herb
s which are usually added late in preparation.


Salmonella contamination

A study by the Food and Drug Administration of shipments of spices to the United States during fiscal years 2007-2009 showed about 7% of the shipments were contaminated by Salmonella bacteria, some of it antibiotic-resistant. As most spices are cooked before being served salmonella contamination often has no effect, but some spices, particularly pepper, are often eaten raw and present at table for convenient use. Shipments from Mexico and India, a major producer, were the most frequently contaminated. However, with newly developed radiation sterilization methods, the risk of Salmonella contamination is now lower.


Nutrition

Because they tend to have strong flavors and are used in small quantities, spices tend to add few calories to food, even though many spices, especially those made from seeds, contain high portions of fat, protein, and carbohydrate by weight. However, when used in larger quantity, spices can also contribute a substantial amount of minerals and other micronutrients, including iron, magnesium, calcium, and many others, to the diet. For example, a teaspoon of paprika contains about 1133 IU of Vitamin A, which is over 20% of the recommended daily allowance specified by the US FDA.USDA National Nutrient Database: Nutrient data for 02028, Spices, paprika
Retrieved August 26, 2012


Production


Standardization

The International Organization for Standardization addresses spices and condiments, along with related food additives, as part of the International Classification for Standards 67.220 series.


Research

The Indian Institute of Spices Research in Kozhikode, Kerala, is devoted exclusively to conducting research for ten spice crops: black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, garcinia, ginger, nutmeg, paprika, turmeric, and vanilla.


Gallery

File:Gato negro.jpg, The ''Gato Negro'' café and spice shop (Buenos Aires, Argentine cuisine, Argentina) File:Spice shop, Mashad, Iran.jpg, A spice shop selling a variety of spices in Iran File:Night Spice market in Casablanca.JPG, Night spice shop in Casablanca, Morocco. File:Taliparamba Market.jpg, A spice shop in Taliparamba, India File:Taliparamba grocery.jpg, Spices sold in Taliparamba, India File:Spice seller, Kashgar market.jpg, Spice seller, Kashgar market File:Spice Market, Marakech (2242330035).jpg, Spice market, Marakesh, Morocco File:Spices of Saúde flea market, São Paulo, Brazil.jpg, Spices of Saúde flea market, São Paulo, Brazil


See also

* * List of culinary herbs and spices * Outline of herbs and spices * * Spice mix * Spice use in Antiquity


Notes


References


Further reading


Books

* * * * * * * *


Articles

* * * * * *


External links

* {{Authority control Spices, Plant products