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.

A cousin to ginger and galangal, turmeric is an intriguing source of sharp, earthy aromas and pleasantly bitter flavors. The pale green, pencil-thin rhizomes of young Curcuma domestica (also known as C. longa) dry to...

Although an aromatic incense can be gathered from the trunks of several species in the genus Boswellia, it is the milky resin, or lubān, of B. sacra from Yemen and southern Oman that has long commanded the highest...

Although a web-based fable gently jokes that chocolate was discovered by an Arab Muslim scholar named al-Khakolati, it is clear that the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao) is native to the Americas. Most wild members of...

Unlike most of the orchids of commerce, the vanilla orchid (Vanilla planifolia) emits a rather slight scent. Nevertheless, the vanillins in its long, thin pods and oily black seeds offer a flavor intensity that...

Profoundly aromatic, the small, brownish, seedlike fruits, more commonly known as berries, of the allspice tree (Pimenta dioica) offer a sharp piquancy followed by notes of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg—a heady mix...

The crimson pigments and sharply perfumed, earthy flavors of annatto emerge from the pulp that surrounds the seeds, which are secreted in spiny, scarlet heart-shaped pods. The pods grow in clusters that stand out...

It is ironic that Christopher Columbus accidentally encountered chile peppers on his first expedition to the New World, a trip in which he searched in vain for the East Indies and the black pepper and other aromatics...

Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) has merited inclusion in the title of this book exactly because it is so demonstrative of culinary globalization: it has been cultivated, utilized and traded for so long that no botanist or...