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Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World

Author: Ben-Erik van Wyk

Publisher: University Of Chicago Press


Publish Date: January 29, 2014

ISBN-10: 022609166X

Pages: 320

File Type: Epub

Language: English

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Book Preface

This book is aimed at providing a broad bird’s eye view of all or most of the commercially relevant culinary herbs and spices of the world. It is not a recipe book but a quick reference guide to the physical appearance, correct names, botany, geographical origin, history, cultivation, harvesting, culinary uses and flavour chemistry of more than 120 different herbs and spices from all the well-known culinary traditions of the world. An attempt is made to paint a new picture of the fascinating complexity and great wonders that are associated with an everyday activity, namely the enjoyment of food.

It is a blessing to be amongst those who are able to experience food as much more than just a means of staying alive. Mealtimes provide the opportunity for family bonding and social interaction. It is a time for taking delight in the shapes and colours of the meal, carefully prepared and skilfully presented by the expert chef. We take time out to experience the complex interactions and synergisms (and yin yang effects) of sweet, bitter, salty, sour and savoury (umami) tastes. Finally, it is perhaps also a time to marvel at the wonderful aromas that emanate from the kitchen, and to reflect on the underlying principles of flavour perception and the complicated evolutionary and cultural interactions that have resulted in the endless diversity of aroma compounds and their sensory effects.

For many of us (including this botanist), the journey of culinary discovery is just beginning. Judged by the levels of culinary and cultural diversity I have been confronted with during many years of researching and several months of writing, the end of the journey is not yet in sight, perhaps not even for the most experienced of food gurus among us.

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