Spice Boxes

Spice boxes provide a glimpse of the history of the Silk Routes through the trade of spices, impacting economies and distinctive cultures. You may see how individual spices are used today by visiting the Recipes section. Spice boxes are reproduced with permissions from Gary Nabhan’s Cumin, Camels, and Caravans: A Spice Odyssey.

There is an ancient form of fermented brick tea that consists of loose tea leaves, stalks, and dust pressed into the shape of a small bird’s nest, hockey puck, or melon. A thousand years before Westerners had ever...

The dried two-seed berries of a group of Asian citrus trees known as prickly ashes (Zanthoxylum spp.) provide one of the most piquant and sizzling taste sensations of any spice on earth. Sichuan pepper is so...

Although star anise (Illicium verum) contains the same sweetly warm, aromatic oils that true anise does, just about everything else about this eastern Asian spice could not be more distinctive from its western Asian...

The tan, ribbed seeds of coriander (Coriandrum sativum) have a citruslike aroma complemented by notes of sage and freshly cut grass. Their pyrazine-rich flavors are warm and somewhat nutty, with floral undertones...

The tiny, aromatic, sage green fruits of this Old World herb (Pimpinella anisum) emanated a vaguely dusty, licorice-like scent. Their sweet anthole-based flavor has been confused with that of fennel, star anise,...

The burgundy red berrylike fruits of Rhus coriaria offer a bright, tangy, mouth-puckering punch up front, followed by a resinous, woody, citric combination of sweetness, tartness, and saltiness. The tanginess and...

Although you might not consider the succulent pulp and seeds of a fruit to be a spice, the seeds and syrup of the pomegranate (Punica granatum) can be used as a garnish, in a salad dressing, as a flavoring for sauces...

Believed to have been first recruited from the wild in southern China, ginger root (zingiber officinale) has become a world traveler. Despite its popular designation as a root, it is actually a pale silvery green to...