Basic Information about Spices and Curry
According to information provided by The American Spice Trade Association, using and trading in spices go back to a time before recorded history. Theories abound on how man came to use spices, including the possibility that primitive men may have wrapped meat in leaves, before cooking it, with the intention of keeping it free from dirt and ashes.
After removing it from the pit, they may have been surprised and delighted to experience a new flavor, probably leading to experimenting and discovering the value of seasonings. Another tale is that the smoke and from the barbeque pit may also have resulted in the tears from the cooks eyes, spilling onto the meat and adding the flavor of salt.
Centuries ago explorers set out to the Orient to trade in spices. These sailors endured long journeys in ships that were prone to mishaps in stormy weather, and were often at the mercy of pirates who regularly looted these trading vessels.
The search for spices also led to discoveries of new land, and subsequently new settlements. Spices which come from the bark, leaves, seeds and roots of plants were grown and harvested in many continents. The word “aroma ” is said to be the ancient Greek word for “spices.” For more information on the history of spices, check out, The American Spice Trade Association
|Ginger||Helps Digestion: Inhibits nausea||Root||Curries & marinades: Food Preservative|
|Garlic||Helps digestion, colds & sinus headaches, Lowers blood pressure & cholesterol levels. May prevent some form of cancer||Bulb||Curries marinades medication|
|Cayenne Pepper||Increases Metabolism||Seed||Adds "heat"|
|Coriander||Anti-Inflammatory||Seeds leaves roots||Flavor|
|Cumin||Anti-Oxidants: anti-inflammatory||Seeds||Flavor: medicinal|
|Cardommom||Anti-Oxidant||Seeds||Flavors savory and sweet dishes|
It seems that introducing spices to the preparation of food was a very thoughtful and intelligent process as it not only improves the flavor, but many spices aid in digestion, and in preserving food. You can enjoy reading more about the wonderful world of spices in the literature available on the internet.
A study by the USDA found that, gram for gram, oregano has the highest antioxidant activity of 27 fresh culinary herbs.
Capsaican is found in Paprika, Cayenne and Red Chili Peppers and is said to aid in lowering the risk of cancer
For most of us who like our food spicy, we even sprinkle crushed chili peppers on pizza and pasta dishes. Most of the spices mentioned here are available in regular supermarkets. Visiting ethnic grocery stores is not only interesting but I have found that they have fresher spices and they are cheaper as well. It is a good idea to store the left over spices in the freezer in order to maintain freshness.
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