JOURNEY THROUGH THE WORLD OF SPICES
Spices, this evocative word from distant lands, scents and flavors, has been throughout the history of humanity the source of incredible change and upheaval.
We can not assess with precision at what time humans began to use spices. However, we can say without fear of contradiction, that 9,000 years ago, Native Americans already used the chili in Central America. From immemorial time, man has sought to enhance its food and drinks with grass species, species in Latin, the term later gave the etymology of the word spice.
The spices are not a precise botanical family, although many belong to the ginger family. These are plant substances: leaf, bud, berry, flower, root or bark, that have olfactory and gustatory properties. Spices fall under taste and herbs come under smell. In India, the land of spices par excellence, to become a great chef you must first be a good masalchi, that is to say mixing spices.
Originally, spices were used to flatter the appetite of gods and get their pardon. The plumes of fragrant smoke rising into the sky have always inspired man in his reconciliation with the divine. The spice mixing smell and flavor was present in rituals, opening our senses to the invisible and immanence. Their roles in religious ceremonies and sacred rituals have survived until today. The fulminations of frankincense and myrrh still allow today to clean stale air and ward off evil spirits. The third millennium BC, the Egyptians were using spices to enhance their supply, manufacture perfumes and ointments necessary for mummification. The use of spicy palm wine was an essential step for embalming the dead. Baptism and the coronation of the Kings also use the spicy oil.
How not to make a special mention on the popular spice of many: chilli. Capsicum annuum and Capsicum frutescens in Latin, it belongs to the nightshade family such as tomatoes and tobacco. It is produced by a small shrub that is also used as an ornamental plant for its red fruit. It is called paprika in German, peperone in Italian and chili in Mexico.
The pepper is rich in vitamin C. The African varieties are so pungent -in other words they contain a lot of capsidine-, that they burn the eyes and fingers of cooks. The more the color is vivid the more the flavor is hot. Green pepper can be bitter, in central Africa it is used to spice up the sala-saka. Berry varieties are … volcanic. The softer version is pepper red, green and sometimes yellow.. It is a spice from which ascorbic acid was extracted firstly. Before being incorporated into the dish, the peppers can be prepared in different ways. Depending on whether it is crushed, fried, grated, reduced to pulp or whole, it do not have the same finish. For example, the large red pepper flavors the sauce and is barely noted. However, water does not come to grips with the fire of the palate, triggered by a violent chili, you must swallow milk and a teaspoon of sugar to relieve you a little. Finally, medicinal properties are attributed to chili to relieve lumbago, as an anthelmintic, to preserve meats, aid digestion and improve circulation …
By Talian K. Djévèk.