What is Spice and How Do You Use It?

FR: Aromate, Epice GER: Gewurz IT: Spezie SP: Especia

This word has the same origin as ‘species’ and originally meant ‘kinds of goods’. Today, by spice we mean usually the dried aromatic products mainly of tropical South East Asian origin, but there are a few from the New World or Africa.

There does not seem to be much point in taking an old word with historical connections and attempting to give it an exact modern definition. The following are commonly referred to as spices; black pepper and its relatives, white pepper, cubeb pepper, long pepper; nutmeg and mace, allspice, cardamom (seeds or fruits), cloves (buds), cinnamon and cassia (bark), dried ginger, turmeric (root) and so on.

Coriander, caraway, dill seed, cumin, saffron etc., might also be called spices by some, but temperate products which are grown in Europe are really in another category, since ‘spices’ implies that they were once brought from the East or the West Indies by ship. The French call them Aromates.

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