Dangerous Tastes: The Story of Spices

Front Cover
University of California Press, Oct 1, 2002 - Cooking - 184 pages
4 Reviews
Spices and aromatics—the powerful, pleasurable, sensual ingredients used in foods, drinks, scented oils, perfumes, cosmetics, and drugs—have long been some of the most sought-after substances in the course of human history. In various forms, spices have served as appetizers, digestives, antiseptics, therapeutics, tonics, and aphrodisiacs. Dangerous Tastes explores the captivating history of spices and aromatics: the fascination that they have aroused in us, and the roads and seaways by which trade in spices has gradually grown. Andrew Dalby, who has gathered information from sources in many languages, explores each spice, interweaving its general history with the story of its discovery and various uses.

Dalby concentrates on traditional spices that are still part of world trade: cinnamon, cloves, ginger, pepper, saffron, and chili. He also discusses aromatics that are now little used in food but still belong to the spice trade and to traditional medicine: frankincense, myrrh, aloes-wood, balsam of Mecca. In addition, Dalby considers spices that were once important but that now are almost forgotten: long pepper, cubebs, grains of Paradise.

Dangerous Tastes relates how the Aztecs, who enjoyed drinking hot chocolate flavored with chili and vanilla, sometimes added annatto (a red dye) to the drink. This not only contributed to the flavor but colored the drinker's mouth red, a reminder that drinking cacao was, in Aztec thought, parallel with drinking blood. In the section on ambergris, Dalby tells how different cultures explained the origin of this substance: Arabs and Persians variously thought of it as solidified sea spray, a resin that sprung from the depths of the sea, or a fungus that grows on the sea bed as truffles grow on the roots of trees. Some Chinese believed it was the spittle of sleeping dragons. Dalby has assembled a wealth of absorbing information into a fertile human history that spreads outward with the expansion of human knowledge of spices worldwide.
  

What people are saying - Write a review

Review: Dangerous Tastes: The Story of Spices

User Review  - dejah_thoris - Goodreads

Definitely the best of his books if you're looking for the stories behind specific spices as that's how it's organized. Not many new facts (for me at least) but lots of lovely images and good short sections for easy reading. Read full review

Review: Dangerous Tastes: The Story of Spices

User Review  - Cerise - Goodreads

Some of the actual history of the spices and spice trade are fascinating but often just as the story is getting interesting it just STOPS. now a new paragraph and a new spice. it's very choppy, more like reading a series of encyclopedia entries than a cohesive work. Read full review

Contents

Preface
7
The phoenixs nest
10
Silphium
17
Exports from Paradise
20
Ginger
21
Sugar
26
Sandalwood
29
Balsam of Mecca
33
Zedoary and zerumbet
100
Amomum and cardamom
102
The rarest of spices
107
Gum guggul
109
Asafoetida or hing
110
Frankincense
114
Myrrh
117
Cargoes of complacence
123

Cinnamon
36
Tejpat
41
Musk
46
The Spice Islands
49
Cloves
50
Nutmeg and mace
53
Cubebs
55
Camphor
57
Gum benzoin
60
The aromatic shore
64
Ambergris
65
Aloeswood
68
The cinnamon mountains
73
Chinese pepper
75
Galanga
78
Rhubarb and licorice
79
Ginseng and star anise
80
The land of pepper
83
Putchuk or costus
85
Spikenard
86
Long pepper
89
Black pepper
90
Turmeric
95
Red sanders
96
Coriander or cilantro
126
Cumin caraway anise ajowan and nigella
127
Mustard
133
Poppy
134
Mastic
136
Storax
137
Saffron
138
I have found cinnamon
140
Uchu rocoto and ulupica
141
Pink peppercorns
142
Chocolate
144
Vanilla
147
Chilli
148
Tabasco pepper and Scotch bonnet
151
Canella
152
Balsam of Peru
153
In quest of spicery
155
Source texts
159
Further reading
162
Glossary of spice names
165
Notes
171
Index
178
Illustration references
184
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2002)

Andrew Dalby is a historian and linguist and has written for numerous food history and classics journals. Among his books are Empire of Pleasures: Luxury and Indulgence in the Roman World (2000), The Classical Cookbook (with Sally Grainger, 1996), and Siren Feasts: A History of Food and Gastronomy in Greece (1996).

Bibliographic information