Herbs & Spices

HERBS & SPICES

Under this heading you will find, alphabetically listed, information about different herbs, spices, famous blends and mixes of herbs and spices, and additionally – information about other ingredients used to spice up food and life.

herbs-and-spices

What is the difference between a HERB and a SPICE?

A HERB is any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume. Usually it is a plant whose stem does not produce woody, persistent tissue and generally it dies back at the end of each growing season.  There are some exceptions to this rule, e.g. rosemary, which is a woody, perennial herb.

A SPICE is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark or vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for the purpose of flavoring, and sometimes as a preservative by killing or preventing the growth of harmful bacteria. An ingredient that represents or introduces zest, charm, or gusto can also be called a spice.

 

What are the origins of the words HERB and SPICE?

HERB
“Late 13 c., erbe,  from O. Fr. erbe,  from L. herba  “grass, herb.”  Refashioned after Latin since 15 c., but the h-  was mute until 19 c. Herbaceous  is from 1640s.”
Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 06 Apr. 2011.

SPICE
“Early 13 c.,  from O. Fr. espice,  from L. species  (pl.) “spices, goods, wares,”  from L. “kind, sort” (see species). Early druggists recognized  four “types” of spices: saffron, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg. Fig. sense of “slight touch or trace of something” is recorded from 1530s. The verb, “to season with spices” is  first recorded early 14 c. (implied in spiced ). Spicy  is from 1560s; in the fig. sense of “racy, salacious” it dates from 1844. Spice-cake  first attested 1520s.
Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 06 Apr. 2011.

 

herbs-and-spicesHerbs and spices have been used by humanity for thousands of years, and have a very exciting history. In ancient times the use of herbs and spices was probably most important in medicine, for making holy oils and ointments, and as aphrodisiacs. The herbs and spices were naturally also used to flavor food and beverages, and not to forget, to preserve food, and also hide food spoilage. Trade in spices has played a huge role throughout history. Fortunes have been made and lost. Trade routes have had enormous consequences for mankind. Voyages of discovery have been initiated to obtain exotic spices and herbs. Countries have been colonized, and countries have been battling for dominance of the precious herbs and spices market.

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