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Book of the Month - Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World

Kew's latest book is the first guide to nearly all commercial herbs and spices in existence - the essential companion for foodies and gardeners alike.

Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World

About the book

People all over the world are becoming more sophisticated and demanding about what they eat and how it is prepared. Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World will appeal to inquisitive foodies, gardeners, botanists, and also students, particularly in food science and technology.

For centuries herbs and spices have been an integral part of many of the world’s great cuisines. But spices have a history of doing much more than adding life to bland foods. They have been the inspiration for, among other things, trade, exploration, and poetry. Priests employed them in worship, incantations, and rituals, and shamans used them as charms to ward off evil spirits. Nations fought over access to and monopoly of certain spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg, when they were rare commodities. Not only were many men’s fortunes made in the pursuit of spices, spices at many periods throughout history literally served as currency.

Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World is the first fully illustrated, scientific guide to nearly all commercial herbs and spices in existence. The book covers more than 150 species—from black pepper and blackcurrant to white mustard and white ginger—detailing the propagation, cultivation, and culinary uses of each. Introductory chapters capture the essence of culinary traditions, traditional herb and spice mixtures, preservation, presentation, and the chemistry of flavours, and individual entries include the chemical compounds and structures responsible for each spice or herb’s characteristic flavour.

Finally, the book offers a global view of the most famous use or signature dish for each herb or spice, satisfying the gourmand's curiosity for more information about new dishes from little-known culinary traditions.

Download sample pages from the book (pdf)

Co published by Kew Publishing, Briza Publications and University of Chicago Press.
£40.00, 320 pp, over 600 colour illustrations.
ISBN 978 1 84246 501 1

About the author

Ben-Erik van Wyk is professor of botany at the University of Johannesburg and the author of several best-selling books on plants and plant use.

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