Spice. The word alone continues to evoke something more than a mere seasoning, a residual verbal piquancy that is itself the echo of a past of astonishing richness and consequence. By the time these quintessentially Eastern products reached the West, spices had acquired a history laden with meaning, in which respect they are comparable to only a handful of other foods, the weight and richness of their baggage rivaled only by bread ("Give us this day our daily bread"), salt ("the salt of the earth"), and wine ("In wine is truth" --but it is also the liquor of death, life, deceit, excess, the mocker or mirror of man). Yet the symbolism spices have carried is more diverse, more spiked with ambivalence than these parallels would suggest. When spices arrived by ship or caravan from the East, they brought their own invisible cargo, a bulging bag of associations, myth, and fantasy, a cargo that to some was as repulsive as others found it attractive. For thousands of years spices have carried a whole swathe of potent messages, for which they have been both loved and loathed.
Jack Turner, from Spice: The History of a Temptation
Spice Cuisine II
Scott J. Morgan
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