Thursday, May 14, 2009


I attended a Smithsonian Associates lecture last night: "Spices of Life". It turned out that the lecture was by Fred Czarra, the author of Spices: A Global History. The books looks very interesting. Czarra is an historian, not a foodie, so it's a bit different from a lot of food writing that I have read. The book is one in a series called The Edible Series. Each book focuses on a different food or ingredient (Pizza, Hot Dog, Pancake, etc.).  

Focusing on the five premier spices—black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and chili pepper—while also relating the story of many others along the way, Czarra describes how spices have been used in cooking throughout history and how their spread has influenced regional cuisines around the world. Chili peppers, for example, migrated west from the Americas with European sailors and spread rapidly in the Philippines and then to India and the rest of Asia, where the spice quickly became essential to local cuisines. The chili pepper also traveled west from India to Hungary, where it eventually became the national spice—paprika.

            Mixing a wide range of spice fact with fascinating spice fable—such as giant birds building nests of cinnamon—Czarra details how the spice trade opened up the first age of globalization, prompting a cross-cultural exchange of culinary technique and tradition. This savory spice history will enliven any dinner table conversation—and give that meal an unforgettable dash of something extra.

1 comment:

scoffin said...

... the edible series... and so after you read it can you eat the book?!