History of Spices & Flavoring Your Summer Menu
Throughout the year on special weekends, we offer a “History of Food Series.”
In April we’ll focus on “History of Spices & Flavoring Your Menu.”
Since the dawn of the earliest known cooking techniques, the search for spices has been a historical quest. Beginning on a local, seasonal level and expanding as civilization, trade and commerce brought the world of spices to your door. Certain regions throughout the world have been, and still are, sought after for their spice.
Savor some of the original spices and learn their history from medicinal and those believed from the gods, to the exotic, and how their pursuit formed the quest of world discovery, war, and associations with people and cultures.
- Blending Your Spices & Flavoring Your Menu. Cooking Demonstration w/ Recipes.
- Fireside Dessert & Culinary Chat w/ Cooking Demonstration
The search for spices played so many more roles than just flavoring foods.
1) Certain spices were believed to have medicinal properties and in some cases were thought to have come from the gods. Remember, this was before "modern" medicine and this was when herbs and spices were used for remedies for physical and mental ailments. In some cases their intoxicating powers were thought to enable you to connect to the gods and higher powers themselves.
2) There was a correlation between the scarcity of the spice and the distance that it traveled. The more limited the availability and the greater distance that it traveled, increased the idea of it being very exotic. Possession of these exotic spices became equated with wealth, power and influence.
Those that had them and those they gave it to was often a reflection on the status of those people in that ancient society. Most "common" people did not have access to these spices but were often the laborers to obtain them. As such, early on, spices were often used as currency or payment for services and their economic value became a quest that opened up the world to trade.
The stories of Marco Polo and the travels along the Silk Road and of course Christopher Columbus and other explorers seeking a more direct route for eastern spices.
One of the most powerful companies in history was the British Empire's East and West trading companies of the 17 and 1800's which actually colonized lands all over the world as for their trade value with spices being a key element. We associate today many spices with various cultures and countries and how a particular spice was viewed could change depending on where they were from and if they were from a "barbarian" or civilized land.