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.
Many of the same
substances have other uses in which they are referred to
by different terms, e. g. in food preservation, medicine,
religious rituals, cosmetics, perfumery or as vegetables.
For example, turmeric
is also used as a preservative; licorice as a medicine; garlic
as a vegetable and nutmeg
as a recreational drug.
distinguished from herbs, which are leafy, green plant
parts used for flavoring purposes. Herbs, such as basil
or oregano, may
be used fresh; spices, however, are dried.
Spices have been
prominent in human history virtually since its inception.
Spices were some of the most valuable items of trade in
the ancient and medieval world. In the story of Genesis,
Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers to spice
merchants. In the biblical poem Song of Solomon, the male
speaker compares his beloved to many forms of spices.
Spices were the
primary reason that Portuguese navigator Vasco Da Gama
sailed to India. Around that same time, when Christopher
Columbus happened upon the New World, he was quick to
describe to investors the many new spices available there.
List of Spices