About the Book
They are our secret ambassadors.
For- many millennia they have carried the message of our land throughout the world. These skilled ambassadors have worked their magic In subtle, undercover; ways winning friends and influencing people when they are most open to suggestion, through then- most essential of enjoyments.
Historically, mankind called on them to celebrate victories, enhance their myriad faiths In raptures of holy smoke even to enter the bridal chamber and bring fragrance and flavours to the start of a life-long relationship.
But these secret ambassadors have not always been gentle and humane. When the need arose to act with decisiveness, they stepped In and tilted the balance. More than the legendary beauty of Helen of Troy, they launched a thousand ships, created the world's greatest empire, discovered a New World. and following the charge of a mutant called CTM, breached the established bastions of British tradition. And that as any hardworking plenipotentiary will tell you, is the most difficult the most jaw-breaking, of all diplomatic assignments.
Who, then, all these all-pervasive under- cover agents who have always relied on their special 007 License to Thrill? Now that we have marinated you, read on.
Welcome to the secret world of spices.
About the Author
Hugh and Colleen Gantzer are India’s pioneering travel writers.
The sub-continent enriched them with a wide spectrum of cultural influences adding to their Anglo-Indian heritage and their varied culinary experiences as an Indian Naval family for many years.
As a team they have won many awards for their work in bringing the world to India and India to the world.
When they are not travelling, the Gantzers live in a Victorian cottage in the oak woods of the Himalayas. Like the questing bear in the old song, they still want to see what lies on the other side of the mountain.
Spices have spiced up civilisations for ages. These fragrant flora have added zing to food, zest to life, charted the lifestyles of whole races and regions, filled the coffers of nations and shaped the history of the modern world. Culinary traditions, cultural rituals, therapeutic treatises, trade and commerce, the beauty industry, the languages of the world-there is hardly a realm of life that has not been spruced up by spices.
We offer you in the pages of this book, a journey through time and space, a voyage across millennia, spanning continents and journey that weaves a history of the world for you through the saga of spices.
The ubiquitous presence of spices has not been adequately chronicled to date. Food and lifestyle publications linger on the flavour of spices but hardly offer an insight into their history. The historians, on their part, have identified the role of spices in yesteryears, but have precious little to comment on their prominence in today's world. Commerce has relegated them to the level of commodities, whereas the plethora of scientific papers is way beyond the reach of the common reader.
It was to fill the yawning gulf between these extremes that the Spices Board envisaged a volume that would delight and inform the specialist and the lay reader alike, give food for thought to the culinary expert and the therapist, the economist and the historian, and whet the appetite of anyone who loves reading a good story. The choice of an author for Spicestory was quite easy. The search for someone who had travelled extensively, relished the cuisine of countless countries and climes, someone imbued with a sound historical sense, yielded just one name-the Gantzers.
Food is the fuel that keeps the world going. As long as we cherish food that is tasty and nutritious, the spices industry will continue to remain recession-proof, unaffected as ever by any kind of economic slowdown. As 'the spice-bowl of the world: India, the world's largest producer, consumer, and exporter of spices, has a unique position. Being the nodal organisation for this industry in India, the Spices Board deems it essential to spread the story of spices far and wide. We take pride in dedicating it to the multitudes who star in this epic narrative - the royalty of yore, the policymakers of today, ancient navigators, the farmers, traders, exporters, scientists, chefs and everyone who cooks, serves and eats food lovingly flavoured with the goodness of spices.
You will, in the following pages, travel along the perfumed spice routes of the world, enjoy the rich aroma of spicelore, and savour the wholesome significance of spices in the world of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
India's heritage in spices has been a source of admiration and attraction worldwide. The present book captures this wonderful Spicestory. Dr A Jayathilak IAS, Chairman, Spices Board India ably assisted by Dr PS. Sreekantan Thampi has traced the roots of our spice heritage to the days when Buddhist monks spread a love of spices in Tibet and China. They have entrusted Hugh and Colleen Gantzer, whose extensive travel experiences have led to the birth of many stories and anectodes relating to spices, with the task of writing the book. This wonderful couple who live in the Himalayas were the right choice to spread the love of spices.
India's rich biodiversity in spices is also related to culinary and cultural diversity. Spices have moved from India to all countries in the world and have also become an important component of both traditional and modern medicine. The use of spices is spearheading a wellness movement. There are many books on spices but the present one also brings out the historical and spiritual values of spices. The book captures the fascinating history of spices beginning forty thousand years ago. The book covers in a most interesting manner the history of Pepper; Cinnamon, Cardamom, Cloves, Turmeric, Chillies, Mustard, Nutmeg and Mace, Cumin, Coriander; Fennel, Fenugreek, Saffron, Vanilla, Mint, and the other related spices of great value in the food and medicinal plant industries. There is also a short write- up on the very valuable work being done by the Spices Board India.
Thanks to the work of the Spices Board, the primacy of India in the world of spices has not only been maintained but strengthened as well.
We owe a deep debt of gratitude to the authors for preparing this remarkable book which certainly will be an important catalyst in achieving the goal of earning US $10 billion through. Spices exports.
I commend the book to all who are interested in adding spice to their life.
In the Beginning
A Prevalence of Spices
The Berry that Lauched a Thousand Ships
Nest of the Phoenix
The Scheherazade Seed
The Buds of Contention
The Rhizone of Zest
The Golden Healer
The Spanish Trailblazer
The Tropical Twins
Nutmeg and Mace
From the Gardens of Babylon
The Greeks Had a Bad Word for it
The Wreath of Gladiators
Poppy Seeds of Khus-Khus
A Shade Beyond Colors
From the Halls of Montezuma
The Flavour of Freshness
The Reasons Why
The Spices Board of India
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