Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

spices are easy to identify, but they are complicated to define. All are aromatic, nearly all are plant products, most have medicinal effects, they generally contribute strong flavors to food, and the great majority originate in the tropics. Many spices have been traded over great distances for many centuries—this is their truly salient property. People far from spices’ points of origin craved them and were prepared to pay dearly for them. They wanted spices for their health benefits at least as much as for their flavors and aromas.