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In Spices: A Global History Fred Czarra explores a wide range of spice fact, fable and legend: from giant birds building cinnamon nests, to the trade routes of the ancient world, to the early modern encounters between the English, Portugese and Dutch that resulted in the first global war. In this history of spices he shows that the spice trade opened up the first era of globalization, where people and spices mixed in cross-cultural exchanges: and that this involved the enslavement of many to work on spice plantations, and even led to the first global war.
Focusing on the five premier spices black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and the chilli pepper and including the stories of many others, Czarra's entertaining account tracks spices' influence as they travelled around the world. Chillies, for example, migrated west from the Americas with the aid of European sailors; spreading rapidly into the Philippines and thence to India, China, Korea and Japan, the new spice was incorporated quickly into local cuisines. From India, the chilli was taken through Central Asia and Turkey to Hungary, where it became the national spice in the form of paprika. Packed with colourful illustrations and incidents from history, Spices is a zesty, readable portrait of this essential aspect of culinary history.
"[a] pocket-sized gem [...] Czarra's step by step guide to spices explaining the origins of spices, where they are grown and the many and various uses, aside from culinary, to which they are put is riveting."
– Asian Affairs
"This highly readable history of spices traces their origins in the ancient world through to the present day. As part of Reaktion Books' Edible series this will appeal to anyone interested in the history of food [...] The history is engrossing [...] The book is also well illustrated with 58 different images, including 33 in colour. These include maps, paintings and detailed botanical drawings [...] This title and the entire Edible series are highly recommended."
– Oxford Vegetarians
"a riveting read."
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Fred Czarra is an author, editor, educator and historian based in Maryland. He has published widely in the field of education.
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