Spice world

Globalization is a buzzword today, but it began thousands of years ago with the spice trade. It was travelling spice merchants who carried cultural influences – tastes, manners, ideas, beliefs, craft skills, folk tales and so much more – between the kingdoms of the Old World. The trade supported the rise of Western Europe to world dominance, bringing about the next stage of global integration. The tightly-bound, multicultural global society we live in exists in large measure because of spices and the demand for them. And spices thrive in our globalized world as never before. Tastes travel, mix and mingle; every big city now boasts restaurants featuring popular cuisines from all over the world – Chinese, French, Indian, Italian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Thai and many others, each with the typical spices and methods of preparation that give it character. In our homes, too, we have become more adventurous, experimenting with new ingredients, trying out exotic dishes on our guests, making full use of the expanded palette of spices and condiments that global trade has made accessible and affordable to us. In the twenty-first century, everyone is a gastronomic cosmopolite. Spices, it seems, bring out the best not only in food, but in people: sensuality, a taste for variety, willingness to experiment, empathy with other races and cultures, a spirit of adventure and much more. Spices have helped shape the world we live in and the kind of people we are, and they continue to give our lives richness and flavour. In a way, that old Assyrian myth really isn’t far from the truth.

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