Spices - Probably More Important Than the Smartphone
Posted on 14 December 2016
Can you imagine cooking without spices? Any spices at all?
For all its current interest in dystopian futures, Hollywood hasn't come close to imagining such a horror. We take so much for granted nowadays. I don't say that as an accusation. Don't worry, I'm not going to get on any tall four legged creatures here. It's just, seeing as how I've embarked on a journey to turn my passion for spices into a business, I thought I should know not just how to find them and use them, but maybe learn about where they came from originally.
Well, you have to go back. Way, way back. Spices have been flavoring peoples foods for at least 7,000 years. That's about 350 generations for some perspective. Back to just about the time when farming was becoming the predominant way of life over constantly roving in search of game to kill.
With a little more energy from not having to constantly be on the move, I guess we all got a little spoiled and started wanting our food to not just nourish us, but taste good, too.
It was in the part of the world where my family comes from the first trade routes were established. Mostly, these were for spices. Not gold or diamonds or weapons. Spices. For a long time, salt was more valuable than gold. History is so complicated. You can't just point at any one event and point to a time before it and say, "this caused that!" But, let's be honest, wasn't Columbus looking for a faster trade route to India (and her spices) when he ran into the New World?
People often reminisce about simpler times. I'm guilty of that sometimes. But, not too long ago, the fact was that many of the wonderful flavors my family has enjoyed could only be enjoyed by those who lived in that region, or not far from it. Unless of course you were rich enough to have spices shipped (literally) or carried on the back of a camel or a horse halfway across the world to you.
There is a lot of concern over globalism. The internet and easy air travel has us all connected like never before. But I think everything will end up all right. Thanks to a universal love of flavorful food, the worlds been slowly dissolving away the borders of tribalism. We're all becoming more familiar with one another. I think nicely prepared, with spices from all over the world, is the perfect way to find a common grounding with a new neighbor.