Rezepte, Kraeuterkunde, Heilsteinkunde und vieles mehr...
Register Calendar Members List Team Members Search Frequently Asked Questions Go to the Main Page

Rezepte, Kraeuterkunde, Heilsteinkunde und vieles mehr... » English categories » Culinary herbs & spice » Things to know about culinary herbs & spice » History of spices » Hello Guest [Login|Register]
Last Post | First Unread Post Print Page | Recommend to a Friend | Add Thread to Favorites
Post New Thread Post Reply
Go to the bottom of this page History of spices
Post « Previous Thread | Next Thread »
yve yve is a female


Mit was kochst Du? / With what do you cook?: Ich/wir koche(n) mit einem Elektroherd & Ceran-Kochfelder
Was kochst Du am liebsten? / Do you like most of all to cook what?: Ich koche gerne herzhaft.
Kochst Du oft mit Kräutern & Gewürzen? / Do you cook often with herbs & spices?: Ich koche oft mit Kräutern & Gewürzen.
Ist Kochen Dein Hobby? / Is cooking your hobby?: Kochen ist mein Hobby.

yve herausfordern
History of spices Reply to this Post Post Reply with Quote Edit/Delete Posts Report Post to a Moderator       Go to the top of this page

History of Spices

It is not known when we started using spices, but it is certain, according to the oldest documented finds, that in about 7000 BC, the inhabitants of Mexico used chillies.

It seems we have been using spices for a long time and not just to satisfy hunger and thirst, but also out of a need to have more taste. Our ancestors spiced their food with certain leaves and fruits. Spices also helped to preserve meat, for instance by covering it in salt or smoking it covered in different herbs. Meat, as well as fish, was spiced before or after cooking over the campfire.

Discoveries in the old pyramids show that even the pharaohs spiced their food. Remnants of anise, dill, fennel, fenugreek, saffron, cardamom, cassia (Chinese cinnamon) and caraway were found in their graves. However, herbs and spices were not just used by the rich, but also by their slaves, which was not an esoteric act, but a selfish regard of their owners; addition of herbs and spices helped to prevent epidemics and was therefore a kind of ‘health insurance’. The dead were mummified in herbs, which were also added to their graves.

Around 1500 BC, the Papyrus Ebers was written. It was 20 metres long and described over 700 natural materials. It tells us that even in those days, people had an idea that herbs and spices did not just improve food, but were also medicinal.

It is said that the Romans spiced their food with poppy, dill, caraway, mustard, coriander, celery seeds, garlic, thyme, marjoram, savory, parsley, anise, fennel and sesame. Pepper was introduced only around the birth of Christ and was not only used as a spice, but also as currency.

The first spices to reach the middle of Europe came with the Roman legions. The sea voyage was long and tiresome and the exact route is not known, but general wisdom has it that the trade route originated in China and crossed Asia. The best known trade route is the ‘Silk Road’ the exact route is nowadays impossible to re-visit, but we know that there were three main trade routes, which had known trade centres.

The sea route to Europe was discovered by the Roman, who brought many herbs and spices from South Africa and Asia. These were then used in the manufacture of perfume, medicine and other beauty aides. With the fall of the Roman Empire, the knowledge of the sea routes was also lost, for this reason the Silk Road remained the most important sea route for exchanging these wares and exchange of knowledge of spices and herbalism.

In Antiquity the ‘Sogdian Traders’ had a tight grip on the Silk Road, goods were transported either by ship or overland by camel in each direction. It was not always possible to exchange goods for cash, which is why they came to be used as payment or ‘barter’, for instance silk was exchanged for herbs and spices, herbs and spices for lapis lazuli, jade and silver jewellery, jewellery for sable and other furs, furs for rugs, rugs for luxurious glass and so on.

It was a natural progression that herbs and spices came to Europe by that route and eventually cloister gardens were the first to cultivate herbs. It was laid down in an edict by Charles the Great (in 802) which herbs could be planted by monks, princes and barons. These herbs and plants were used for humans and animals as flavours, for healing and preservation; some of them were used for insect repellent.

Bear’s garlic, savory, watercress and tarragon were among examples of native plants, but other herbs could also be found in these gardens, i.e. Mediterranean herbs like: rosemary, coriander and sage. These plants came to us as seedlings, seeds or loppings . Many of the plants cultivated in these gardens were not only used as seasoning, but medicinally like mint or caraway.

During her time as Abbess (1098 – 1179 AD), Hildegard von Bingen described these herbs in detail, which left the knowledge of their medicinal properties (including exact dosage and which part of the plant to use) for prosperity.

There were herbs to stop bleeding, aides against colds and hoarseness, stomach- and intestine ailments, skin diseases, ulcers, sprains and bruises; even female problems were helped by different herbs, as well as insect-, snakebites, flees, lice and warts.

Until the crusades, the trade between Asia and Europe had been dominated by the Arabs. Those were the days of Arabic warehouses and the adventures of the small trader and seafarer ‘Sinbad’. By bringing herbs and spices back, the crusaders had created a higher demand in the occident, which was the reason for Christians to keep control over the most important regions between west and east. The Arabs kept their sea route very secret.

The Romans used herbs very lavishly and, with rising demand, it became ever more important to find a good route to India to break the Arab monopoly.

Marco Polo’s trip (24 years), was documented on parchment and describes the spices he saw as well as the things that happened to him on his long journey, which included hair raising stories and myths about the early Arab traders. About Java, he told of the finest wares in abundance, pepper, nutmeg, cloves and other valuable herbs cultivated in those lands. Crusader states were established all along the Mediterranean regions, which did not command their own flotillas but instead used the ships of the upper Italian traders.

In the 13th Century, under the leadership of Genghis Khan, a great empire was conquered which reached from the Chinese Sea to the Mediterranean. The Mongolians enabled the Italian traders to travel directly to the plantations. In the same way, the crusades enabled them to bypass the Arab traders and buy the herbs cheaply, which had been the total opposite before (the Arabs were well paid, having the monopoly on the oriental market). Now, the Venetians had a much better profit margin.

If one thinks of how valuable herbs were at that time, this was a gigantic leap for the Venetians. Saffron was worth the same as a horse, a pound of ginger was worth the equivalent of a sheep and pepper was worth its weight in gold. Spices were a sign of wealth.

In the middle ages, forgeries to increase the profit margin began to emerge, but one had to expect severe punishment, if caught. In Nuremberg a forger was burnt with his forged ware and buried alive. Not until the Ming dynasty did trade between Europe and China break down; then the spice dealers bought their wares again from the traders.

Change in the spice industry happened, when the discovery was made that the earth was round. The Portuguese sailed along the African coast and further south, reaching the Orient where new African herbs were sold. It took until 1499 when Vasco Gama returned home with a fully laden ship, having found a short trade route round the Cape of Good Hope, that the Italian monopoly was broken. He was hailed as a great hero after his return. The most important goods were pepper, cloves, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail, armed with a new plan of sailing east. He saw land and, thinking he had reached Japan, was actually in San Salvador, where he first tasted fiery chillies.

On his second journey, he was accompanied by 1500 men, there to safeguard the Spanish monopoly. Columbus hoped to find gold and oriental spices, but instead found pimento and vanilla and returned from the American continent with potatoes, chocolate, maize, peanuts and turkeys.

Some time later, the Portuguese established a cinnamon monopoly and could therefore finance their expensive journeys. A story by the trader Anton Fugger shows just how precious cinnamon was. It is said, that he burnt the paper documenting Charles the 5th debt in front of the emperor’s eyes.

The colonial reign only ended after the 2nd World War and with it the time of the spice monopoly. The then Dutch-East India Company (which was also the first public company), dominated the trade of nutmeg and cloves, which meant 200% of the European percentage. This was brutally defended by the Dutch, nutmeg- and clove trees were only allowed to grow on two Molukken islands (Ambon and Banda) and all other trees were destroyed. Anyone growing a nutmeg- or clove tree in secret was condemned to death, anyone eating the nuts, had their hand cut off. This brutality was often futile, due to a large type of pigeon eating the nuts and so distributing the seeds across the island.

In 1770 the French managed to steal some nutmeg- and clover saplings and replant them in their own colonies (Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion).

In 1780 the Dutch- East India Company went bankrupt after England blockaded Dutch ships in East India, which turned London into one of the most important trading places for the exchange of spices from Sri Lanka and India. Cinnamon also brought the English traders a large income.
Around 1900, spices became unpopular (it is not known why) other goods became more important, for instance: cocoa, coffee and sugar, which pushed spices onto the back shelf and many herbs became forgotten. New foods came on the market, like potatoes, tomatoes and Brussels sprouts. Herbs did not make a return until after the 2nd World War.

And so now, in the 20th century, with people travelling to far away places and eat exotic dishes, herbs and spices are popular again and play a big role in our kitchens.

@alle User, bitte auch hier das Urheberrecht beachten!!!
Nähere Informationen zum Urheberrecht findet Ihr in diesem Thread: Urheberrecht der Geschichten und andere Informationen!!!
Gruß yve Smile

Wenn ich mein Leben noch einmal leben könnte, würde ich die gleichen Fehler machen. Aber ein bisschen früher, damit ich mehr davon habe.

Marlene Dietrich (1901 - 1992)
25.03.2007 12:37 yve is online Send an Email to yve Homepage of yve Search for Posts by yve Add yve to your Buddy List Add yve to your Contact List
Tree Structure | Board Structure
Jump to:
Post New Thread Post Reply
Rezepte, Kraeuterkunde, Heilsteinkunde und vieles mehr... » English categories » Culinary herbs & spice » Things to know about culinary herbs & spice » History of spices

Privacy policy | Team | Suchen | Hilfe
Forum Software: Burning Board 2.3.4, Developed by WoltLab GmbH