Saturday, March 25, 2006

Spice Clinic

“Spice” The very word conjures up visions of exotic tastes and places and well it should especially for Western Europeans for their culinary as well as for their medicinal value.

10 Spicy facts:

“Spice” is derived from the word “species” which was applied to groups of exotic foodstuffs in the middle ages.

1. Pungent spices can cause sweating, thereby leading to a cooling sensation in tropical climates; on the other hand they can add a sense of inner warmth when present in cooked foods used in cold climates.

2. Spices also fitted into philosophic concepts of improving health, and influence the corresponding moods

3. Ginger heats the stomach and improve digestion;

4. Clove comforts the sinews;

5. Mace prevents colic and diarrhoea

6. Nutmeg benefits the spleen and relieves any bad cold.

7. Cinnamon is good for digestion and for sore throats.

8. Aromatic spices, such as cloves, cardamom and mint, are useful to disguise the foul breath of onion and garlic eaters

9. Peppercorn was accepted as a substitute for money in the medieval times; thus, some landlords would be paid a “peppercorn rent”.

10. Aphrodisiacs are undoubtedly the New World’s Aztec “food of the gods” These include Asafoetida, Cardamom, Cloves, Ginger, Pepper, Saffron, Vanilla, Mace and Nutmeg. All these allegedly erotically stimulating agents have long been incorporated into cooking, incenses, rubs and other romantic sources for stimulation of sexual feeling. More recently, these and other herbs are utilized creatively in numerous massage oils and in incenses that are popularly utilized to improve sensations as a new-old form of therapy, with the modern title of “aromatherapy”.

The love affair with spices continues. Today we have the spices of the world at our fingertips and we use them to create the dishes of many cultures. We also continue to be interested in their medicinal value, unproven at times by western medicine, but the cachet of the ages remains.