A general description of the uses of spices. If you are new to cooking then read this to get an idea of how different countries use spices. If you are an "old hand" please let us know your favorite recipes.
Enlarge ImageFor thousands of years Man has used herbs and spice to flavor their food. Each region of the world has developed their own style of cooking and nowadays it is possible to explore and recreate the great variety of dishes different countries offer.
In Europe herbs are an essential part of Mediterranean cooking. Marjoram, oregano, basil, rosemary and many others are vital ingredients in the recipes from Italy, Spain and other Southern European countries. Cross the water to North Africa and the Middle East and you will find mild aromatic spices predominate. Anyone who has eaten an authentic tagine in a Moroccan suk will tell you how enticing these spices are. Much of this region is known for the spices they produce, saffron from Iran, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric and many more from Zanzibar off the east coast of Africa.
Most people associate spicy food with Asia, but again every country and region has its own cuisine as varied as the spice they use. Indian food, influenced by the Hindu and Moslem cultures, can be fiery hot or lightly aromatic. Even the desserts served are gently flavored with cardamom, nutmeg and cloves.
Thai and Vietnamese food is becoming increasingly popular worldwide. Many people, nervous of eating Indian curries and wrongly fearing that they will be very hot, enjoy the subtle flavors of Thai spice and lemon grass, as gentle as the people themselves.
Chinese cuisine is equally subtle, much of its flavoring due to the sauces used, but spices such as ginger, star anise (grown in Southern China), cinnamon and cloves are also essential ingredients. If a little kick is needed, then chilli comes into its own.
Then we come to the New World. Visit any island in the Caribbean, from the spice island of Grenada to Trinidad and Tobago and you will find a host of highly flavored recipes as colorful as the people themselves. Tourism has opened the delights of Cuban cooking to the world.
Think of South America and chillis and peppers immediately come to mind. Chillis have influenced cooking right through Mexico, into Louisiana and the Cajun cooking ,so reliant on Cayenne pepper. This influence, combined with a Spanish flavor, has spread to Southwestern food with its spicy salsas. Try dishes from the Midwest with their strong influences from Germany and the Eastern European countries.
Fortunately the internet makes it easy to try out many of these recipes for yourself. Look up a country and its recipes and you are bound to find what you want. Herbs and Spices can be ordered cheaply at Worldwide-herbs-and-spices.com, so why not give it a go. Worldwide Use of Spices
Worldwide Herbs and Spices
By Cath Champion
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