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Spices.  The word carries magic with it and takes us to far off tropical and exotic lands.  It immediately conjures up an image of colorful market stalls in Asia, the Middle East or the Maghreb, or anywhere, for that matter, provided there are overstuffed sacks, sitting on the ground, spilling forth various warm, colorful and delightfully fragrant powders. But what exactly is a spice?  The spices chosen to give flavor to this book make up a compendium collected from various dictionaries and encyclopedias, revised medical and culinary history from ancient to modern times, more recent scientific chemical approaches, but also from folklore and commonly accepted, everyday uses.

This Great Treatise on Spices leaves herbs and seasonings behind and thoroughly presents more than seventy spices, giving us the history behind their discovery, their botanical description, their use in cooking, their medicinal virtues, the dangers of their abuse, their empirical discovery by Ancient peoples, the beliefs attached to them, and for some of them, their application, that sometimes dates back to a long time ago, in perfumery and cosmetics.

The wealth of original illustrations, an ideal balance between black and white drawings and color (watercolor, and photo) plates depicts each spice, so that the reader can distinguish between similar plants like, fennel and dill, carrot and hemlock....

This is truly an inviting opportunity to discover the extraordinary world of spices.

This book is accompanied by a broad general introduction, a section on spice blends, an index of Latin and vernacular names, and a table of spice families.


GRAND TRAITÉ DES ÉPICES, Mireille Gayet, Éditions Le Sureau, 232 pages, 19x27cm.