Culinary herbs and spices| Geography

Let’s face it and know more about the culinary herbs and spices. Basically the culinary herbs and spices are the best part about eating food. Basically culinary herbs and spices are what that go into sauces seasonings and directly onto our meals to make us want to eat. The fact that culinary herbs and spices are great has been known from millennia now and has at certain points in history led to tremendous changes in society economics and people.

After all Columbus Was trying to find a new route to the East Indies to access the spice trade when he accidentally stumbled upon America. That means everything afterwards the colonization the destruction of the indigenous population and even the Atlantic slave trade were all inverted caused by the search for spices.

Before that Caravans would cross deserts and seas to transport spices from one end of the known world to another. Not only did this drive the exchange of goods and currency but created cultural interaction and diffusion leading to the spread of technology and religious ideas around the whole world.

Lets know more about culinary herbs and spices……….

Role of geography (culinary herbs and spices)

culinary herbs and spices
culinary herbs and spices

Despite the culinary herbs and spices have played huge role in the history of human. Very less people know about the important role played by the geography in both the growing and usage of culinary herbs and spices in foods. Perhaps the most important thing to understand about them is that spices are Defenses.

Let me explain, so the same way predation of smaller animals by larger ones leads to certain animals developing. Some crazy Defenses Plants are eaten by animals in what’s called herbivory which can lead to plants developing similar defenses over Time. Some examples of this include plants growing thorns high off the ground and thick skins like bark.

But by far the most common form Of defense plants use are chemical defenses usually by storing up a large amount of toxic chemicals in their bodies. So that when eaten by herbivores It either kills them or at least injures them enough so that they never eat that plant again. So the same way poison dart frogs Accumulate poison on their skin to deter predators from eating them plants will store poisons in their bodies or fruits to deter herbivores.

These poisons are our spices for bigger animals like humans this poison just tastes Interesting. We’re different because we have a much higher tolerance than the smaller organisms that these chemicals target. By now you might be asking but they’re still toxins right so why do we? enjoy, eating them at all the answer to this is actually found in the single greatest plant predator on earth.

Decomposers more specifically bacteria and fungus most often the toxins are stored in the body. Plants are to prevent the growth of these decomposers inside the body of the plant. If it weren’t for these chemicals decomposers could get in and well Decompose things killing the plant in the process. So now think about humans a few thousand years ago they’d hunt and catch animals and sometimes massive ones whose meat would sustain tribes for days or even weeks but they couldn’t simply put their leftovers in the fridge without that convenience bacteria and fungus like mold would quickly grow and make any leftover food.

If only there was a chemical designed to kill bacteria and fungus that Was so abundant you could metaphorically say it grows on trees. Oh, wait their is a weird red thing that kind of makes my tongue tingle. When I eat it but it does exactly that. So yeah spices were used to kill any bacteria and such growing on our food in order to prolong the window in which it could be eaten it also helped mask any bad flavor.

The meat had acquired due to rot this made spices extremely valuable if you wanted to survive you had to be able to stomach these toxins. Therefore whoever Was more resilient to the toxins recalled spices were additional capable of living in times of scarce food choices. 

Essentially whoever may handle spicier foods may eat the safest food during this approach evolution selected towards us not only being spice Tolerant but actually for us to enjoy the flavors of spice because it meant we were eating safe food.

But the use of spice didn’t happen evenly across all human populations. If you think about it we put food in refrigerators to make them colder so that they last longer. This has to do with the metabolism rates of bacteria and such as metabolisms occur at faster rates and warmer temperatures meaning bacteria can eat and reproduce faster and cause even more damage. Therefore putting food in a warm environment Will shorten the amount of time that it’s safe to eat.

What this results in is food rotting faster in areas that experience warmer climates like the tropics to combat this a greater quantity and diversity of culinary herbs and spices are typically used in tropical and subtropical places to counteract the higher rates of bacterial growth in colder places like the temperate regions. The opposite is true sometimes the temperature here can fall below freezing and food will stay good if you just leave it outside.

Meaning there’s less of a need to season it with spices it also just so happens that it gets cold right around the same time food gets sparse and preservation becomes a necessity. Think in the summer food is usually Plentiful and therefore there’s no real need to preserve food because you can always find more but in the winter animals take refuge and all the plants lose their foliage and fruits so the food people can find has to last longer.

What I’m getting at is the only time Food needs to be preserved in the temperate areas the environment will it for us. However within the tropical regions the dry season can return to create food scarce however high temperatures persist creating spicing food necessary. This explains why cuisine and let’s say Britain is Disgusting but food and let’s say India is amazing this is also why so many Europeans valued spices so much and sailed everywhere in the world looking for trade routes to access these spices.

On the Biological side of this because bacteria and fungi grow faster in warmer conditions. Plants around the equator are more likely to store up Chemical defenses to dissuade them as well. So not only did people who lived in the tropics have a greater need for spices they also had a greater and more diverse arsenal of spices to choose from.

This has led certain areas on the globe to develop Abundant natural spices because of this instead of doing what I did with fruits and bear every fruit. Severally i made a decision now to travel through the new spots then catch any spices that do not belong to a certain hot spot at the end. The first important concentration is to be found in India and the rest of Southeast Asia.

This area stretches from the Subtropical into the tropical and once hosted the biggest and oldest rain-forest on the earth southern India is wherever basal turmeric and black pepper the foremost pepper we have a tendency to use nowadays comes from curry. Also originated here but that’s actually a combination of several different spices. Not just one plant further south it’s thought that cinnamon first began in sri lanka.

To the east we have where ginger and the liquor-ice plant got their start and yeah before you ask it’s the root of the licorice plant that we used to flavour liquorice candy. Lastly for this region we maybe have the most common spice currently being used in the world Sugar. A lot of people might disagree with this but if you think about it it’s just another plant derived Substance we use to flavor our food which is exactly what every other Spices to whether or not you consider it a spice.

Though sugar cane the plant responsible for 80% of our sugar production has thought to have come from this region as well nearby. To start the most common type of bay leaf comes from this region though different types can be found across the world. Chamomile also came from this region mostly used 14 now it got its name in English via French via Latin via the Greek word – my melon meaning Earth Apple.

Fennel plants aren’t too popular but they’re one of the main ingredients in making absinthe. The Greek word for fennel is marathons and Marathon literally translates into field of fennel. So the Greek city of Marathon was? Originally just built in a field of fennel and named accordingly then a battle between the Greeks and Persians Happened here and someone had to run 26 Miles to Athens to tell them about it and that’s how we ended up with the marathon race.

Lavender also came from the Mediterranean region which for the longest time went by the Greek name nard. So good call switching into lavender mint has spread across the world But it’s thought to have originated here as well though it grows best In wetter climates primarily mint has grown near other more important plants.

So its pungent smell Keeps other pests away it’s basically only humans that actually like the smell and taste a mint which is weird because mint is almost exclusively used Because we think it smells good breath mints Toothpaste and mouthwash and chewing gum. All used the aroma of this leaf Which only exists to keep herbivores from eating it with its awful smell. Actually I guess that does make sense because if your breath smells like something that kills bacteria then your mouth must not have any Bacteria and therefore must be clean anyway.

Mustard plants, also got their start in this region while many might be thinking of the condiment mustard which is made from the seeds of mustard plants. Mustard as a family includes the genus Brassica which also includes turnips, cabbage, collard, greens kale, cauliflower, Broccoli Brussels sprouts and canola plants yeah mustard’s are more important than people realize.

Oregano on the other hand is known to have originated Specifically in Greece and its name comes from the Greek words or O’s meaning mountain and GaN O’s meaning Joy to make a joy of the mountains which is where wild oregano first grew. Saffron is one of the most expensive spices by weight and that’s because the part we use as a spice comes from the elongated stigmas this part of the saffron flower which typically solely yield some per flower.

They were specially bred on the island of Crete throughout the Bronze Age. To be like this from here had unfold to become popular in foods and medicines. Whereas rosemary, sage and thyme conjointly come back from this general region. They are pretty regular spices i could not notice something cooler Specific to mention regarding them though and that wraps up all the major hotspots for spices.

Next we have the spices that appeared all on their own Allspice which has been described as sort of tasting like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves all together is also known by another name Jamaican Pimenta. So yeah no surprise got it start on the island of Jamaica in the Caribbean. Cayenne peppers are the classic red pepper. Most people probably think about when thinking of spicy peppers these actually come from the French Guiana in South America Specifically from the cayenne region.

Garlic in my opinion is just the best and comes from Central Asia where Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan And the Chinese Jian Shan mountains meet then. We have Jasmine Which is actually a genus containing over 200 individual species. Being so numerous it’s hard to track just exactly where they started but it’s thought that southern China is where they came from. Sassafras is really the only spice I have on this list that comes from a more temperate wet climate. Originating in the east coast of North America roughly from Ontario Canada to Florida in the United States.

It’s the root of this tree that was used to flavor root beer hence the name Ruth de Beer. Lastly, we have the spice melange which we all know is native to and only grows on the desert planet of Arrakis.

I hope you must have found this article about the culinary herbs and spices informative.

To know more about recipes for desserts, cocktails ,mock tails,etc do check my other posts at foodohoolic.

One Comment

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *