Basil, cumin, curry powder, cilantro, ginger, nutmeg, rosemary…
For centuries, herbs and spices have been an integral part of many of the world’s great cuisines. But spices have a history of doing much more than adding life to bland foods. They have been the inspiration for, among other things, trade, exploration, and poetry.
Priests employed them in worship, incantations, and rituals, and shamans used them as charms to ward off evil spirits. Nations fought over access to and monopoly of certain spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg, when they were rare commodities. Not only were many men’s fortunes made in the pursuit of spices, spices at many periods throughout history literally served as currency.
In Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World, Ben-Erik van Wyk (see About the Author below) offers the first, fully illustrated, scientific guide to nearly all commercial herbs and spices in existence. Van Wyk covers more than 150 species — from black pepper and blackcurrant to white mustard and white ginger — detailing the propagation, cultivation, and culinary uses of each. This comprehensive work also is a collaborative effort with England's Kew Royal Botanical Garden.
Introductory chapters capture the essence of culinary traditions, traditional herb and spice mixtures, preservation, presentation, and the chemistry of flavors, and individual entries include the chemical compounds and structures responsible for each spice or herb’s characteristic flavor.
Many of the herbs and spices van Wyk covers are familiar fixtures in our own spice racks, but a few — especially those from Africa and China — will be introduced for the first time to American audiences.
Van Wyk also offers a global view of the most famous use or signature dish for each herb or spice, satisfying the gourmand’s curiosity for more information about new dishes from little-known culinary traditions.
With over 600 color photographs, Culinary Herbs & Spices of the World is THE reference guide to more than 150 different culinary herbs, spices and flavourings from all the well-known culinary traditions of the world.
Introductory chapters include a concise overview of the main culinary traditions of the world and a fascinating glimpse into the chemistry of taste and flavor.
Each entry is scientifically accurate with a richly illustrated review of the herbs physical appearance, correct name, botany, geographical origin, history, cultivation, harvesting, culinary uses and flavor ingredients.
People all over the world are becoming more sophisticated and demanding about what they eat and how it is prepared. Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World will appeal to inquisitive foodies, in addition to gardeners and botanists.
Ben-Erik van Wyk is professor of botany at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. He has a research interest in systemic botany and plant utilization and currently holds a National Research Chair in indigenous plant use. and the author of several best-selling books on plants and plant use.
Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World is his latest book in the successful international series, including Medicinal Plants of the World and Food Plants of the World, that have been translated into several languages.