There was a time, for a handful of peppercorns, you could have someone killed. Throw in a nutmeg or two, you could probably watch. There was a time when grown men sat around and thought of nothing but black pepper. How to get it. How to get more. How to control the entire trade in pepper from point of origin to purchase.--Schuyler Ingle
Here is an exploration of the centuries-old desire for spice in food, in medicine, in magic, in religion, and in sex--and of the allure of forbidden fruit lingering in the scents of cinnamon, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, mace, and clove. We follow spices back through time, through history, myth, archaeology, and literature. We see spices in all their diversity, lauded as love potions and aphrodisiacs, as panaceas and defenses against the plague. We journey from religious rituals in which spices were employed to dispel demons and summon gods to prodigies of gluttony both fantastical and real. We see spices as a luxury for a medieval king's ostentation, as a mummy's deodorant, as the last word in haute cuisine.We discover how spice became one of the first and most enduring links between Asia and Europe. We see in the pepper we use so casually the relic of a tradition linking us to the appetites of Rome, Elizabethan England, and the pharaohs. And we capture the pleasure of spice not only at the table but in every part of life- Tom Standage
I know not of any cuisine more evocative of the word -spice- than the Indian one. Spices are so important in an Indian kitchen that there's not a home without at least one masala dabba or spice box. So I decided I needed one for the Rolla kitchen as well. Except I didn't make a box, but a platter of spices.
It took me three tries of shaving various shades of incense cones into tiny little steel bowls before I could get decent pictures of my spice platter. As you can see from the picture above, I had also used dried leaves and seeds. Those were the easy ones.
Look at my first attempt and you can see what I mean by sloppy shaving. My spice platter looked more like it belonged to a nursery than a kitchen.
Here is attempt No. 3 on a rattan mat, finally earning its place, at least for now, in the Rolla kitchen. The wooden ladles were made by me using tooth picks, dried pods (same as the ones I used for the lotus leaves) and strings.
This is my favourite picture of a spice platter. It was taken by momofuku ando when he was in Shimla, India 2006. Perhaps my next kitchen will have one just like this.
Up next, ingredients for curry fish head....