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Spicing up food and life

Since years, collecting and using largely unknown spices has been a hobby of mine. In this WEB page, I want to share my information about botanical, chemical, culinary and maybe even historical aspects of spices. If you want to comment on anything, correct my mistakes, add more information or something similar, please be assured I shall be glad about every mail: Just click here


Although I give my best to present only reliable information here, I can take no warrant of any kind that any part of my WEB page is correct, harmless, acceptable for non-adults or suitable for any specific purpose. If you follow some advice given here and suffer any disadvantage from that, please take it as a further step to maturity and don’t hold me responsible for it.

When dealing with the Internet, always remember: Anything free comes without guarantee!

Copyright information

All the material made available here was either taken from the cited literature or goes back to personal experience. Thus, though not at all familiar with copyright law, I feel that I hold the copyright of all articles presented here.

All readers of this site are allowed to download any document, print it and make copies for personal use. Copies may be given to any number of other persons as long as no fee is charged, except from a reasonably small fee to cover the expenses of copying. I furthermore request that all copies must bear my name as the author and/or my e-mail or home page address; text modifications must be properly indicated (I feel it’s good Internet style to inform the author of all non-trivial changes made to his documents).

Some people have asked me how to cite my site in the context of a written publication. I don’t know whether there is a standard solution to that problem; just citing the URL is, of course, somewhat inappropriate since the net is so much in flux and URL addresses may change on a yearly basis. Anyway, since I am a scientist, not a lawyer, I feel authors should concentrate their creativity on research of their topic, not on research of copyright law. Just try to be fair, that’s all.

There is another point I should like to make perfectly clear: It is, without my explicit consent, strictly forbidden to copy parts of this site and republish these copies in the Internet. Copies of the articles presented here must not, neither in original form nor with some editorial modifications, be integrated into other Websites (other than quotations of, say, two or three paragraphs in which case I only request a hyperlink identifying me as the source of the quote).

You may, though, load any document here in a frame of your own site. The reason for this restriction is that I constantly enlarge my site and I want to prevent outdated copies floating around in the net. If you feel that you desperately need a editorially modified or shortened version of one of my articles, please contact me. If your request seems reasonable to me, I might provide the document according to your needs on my web server and keep it up to date for myself.

Stricter copyright rules than outlined above apply to one single document: The printable version of my large alphabetic spice index. Although most net users are given access to this index by rather similar conditions as outlined above, one group of Internet users (employees of a corporation that has not ever given anything for free to the net community, except a third-rated browser software) is excluded from free usage. From these people, I demand a reasonable licence fee to cover for my research effort; details are contained within the index document.

To learn about the copyright of the photos shown on this site, please read the list of photo sources.

How to set hyperlinks to my site

Of course, it is allowed (and encouraged) to link my site from any other Internet page. If you want to reference the entire site rather than a particular spice, it is far best to link to the top level page

I also welcome links to other pages than the start page (deep links); I even feel this is the most normal way to refer to any spice article. Note that since I have done away with the frames I formerly used in the layout of this sice, linking to any subpage is completely straightforward: The URL of every single page is likely to appear in the location bar of your browser window, and it is exactly that URL will work in external links (this also applies to links referring to a named anchor). If you happen to maintain pages or wikis that refer to my site via an URL containing the string generic_frame.html (or similar), please correct the link accordingly.

Some layout effects are achieved by DHTML (read more about this in my Technotes). Generally, DHTML creates non-linkable browser states, but I have provided for an alternative mechanism that gives external links full flexibility to choose the initial display by setting appropriate parameters. The following table lists almost all supported URL parameters.

ParameterValueMeaningApplies to
Selects a display style by enabling alternate style files (option is inherited by outgoing links)all documents
showlangsISO 639-1 language codes Initial display of languages; separate the language codes by plus signsall multilingual indices
spiceFilename(s) of spice articlesShows only names relating to the specified spice(s), identified by their file names; separate multiple file names by plus signs. The file names can be truncated to any degree. alphabetic index, but will also work to some degree in other multilingual indices
Specifies how to render spice names in languages that do not use the Devanagari alphabet: show them both native and transcribed (default), native only or transcribed to Devanagari onlyIndic index
Initial display of links to spice names (showtypes=zhhi) or other names (showtypes=zhlo)Chinese index

ISO 639-1 language codes
Controls how many foreign spicenames are initially shown. spicenames=show gives names in all languages; you can also request an arbitrary set of languages (shown in addition to the default) by specifying language codes, which have to be separated by plus signsall spice plant articles

If you find this table too cumbersome to remember, you can also switch to German language and then back to English; this should give you all the relevant parameters in the URL box of your browser.

Parameters are appended to the URL (before any fragment identifier) and separated by ampersands. A possible example is which will display Farsi (Persian) and Urdu (Pakistani) names of spices starting with the letter ب (beh) (works only partially with Opera).


All Spices at a Glance

It is quite a task to characterize all spices in one short sentence. The following are my (very personal) associations with each of the 117 plants described on these pages.

Ajwain  — grains with thyme fragrance from India’s kitchens
Allspice — cloves, nutmeg and pepper all in one
Almond — who is afraid of prussic acid?
Anise — the classical flavour for sweets
Annatto — an orange dye from Southern America
Asafetida — a spice called devil’s dung
Basil — bears its royal name with good reason
Bay Leaf — a classic spice in Europe and elsewhere
Bear’s Garlic — a quiet tip for connoisseurs
Black Cardamom — smoky capsules from the Himalaya
Black Cumin — exclusive taste for the Emperor of India
Black Mustard — from Dijon (France) to Goa (India)
Black Pepper — without doubt, the king of spices
Blue Fenugreek — the spice of the Alpes
Boldo — a quiet tip for experts
Borage — the herb with cucumber scent
Capers — the spicy bud
Caraway — the taste of the Alps
Cardamom — the spice behind the Bedouins’ coffee
Celery — seen as a bad omen in ancient Rome
Chameleon plant — like a strange mixture of lemon, orange and ginger
Chaste Tree — a would-be aphrodisiac
Chervil — a token of good French cookery
Chile — fiery pungency for the whole globe
Chinese Cinnamon (Cassia) — the first cinnamon variety in the West
Chives — a decoration with a delicate flavour
Cicely — a sweet flavour from Northern Europe
Cloves — a prized commodity from the colonial Dutch spice islands
Coconut — the most versatile of all tropic ingredients
Coriander — a fruits and a herb like day and night
Cress — refreshing pungency
Cubeb Pepper — bitter and pungent grains nearly forgotten
Cumin — the soul of Indian cookery
Curry Leaf — a well-known name for an unknown spice
Dill — more applications than just cucumber stew
Epazote — the Mayas’ spice
Fennel — a sweet flavour for spicy dishes
Fenugreek — a bitter classic
Fingerroot — Thai cuisine’s secret weapon
Galanga — a taste as exotic as the Far East
Gale — the beer spice of the Middle Ages
Garlic — loved by some, hated by some others
Ginger — loved for pungency and fragrance
Grains of Paradise — peppery grains from Africa’s West Coast
Horseradish — Nature’s lachrymatory agent
Hyssop — blue flowers, aromatic fragrance and bitter taste
Indian Bay-leaf — aromatic leaves from Northern India
Indonesian Bay-Leaf — the flavour of Bali
Indonesian Cinnamon — grown and exported, but hardly ever used
Juniper — Gin and fermented cabbage
Kaffir Lime — harsh lemon fragrance for Thailand’s kitchens
Lavender — the fragrance of Provence
Lemon Balm — bees’ food and lemon aroma
Lemon Grass — refreshing citrus odour from South East Asia’s cooking pots
Lemon Myrtle — a fragrance more like lemon than lemon
Lemon verbena — leaves with lemon fragrance from South America
Lemon — the most important souring agent
Lesser Galangale — the mysterious flavouring of Indonesia
Licorice — a medical plant with culinary applications
Lime — the tropical relative of lemon
Long Coriander — under Caribbean sun
Long Pepper — the first pepper that made its way to Europe
Lovage — found in granny’s herb garden
Mexican Pepper-leaf — a fascinating fragrance
Mexican tarragon — the yellow flower with anise scent
Mahaleb Cherry — an exotic spice from Turkey
Mango — more than just one of the world’s best fruits
Marjoram — a love medicine by confusion
Mugwort — a bitter flavour for special applications
Myrtle — an aromatic firewood
Negro Pepper — an African pepper surrogate almost forgotten
Nigella — the taste of Turkish bread
Nutmeg — two spices from one tree
Olive — a cultural invariant in the Mediterranean
Onion — despite moist eyes, it’s valued all over the world
Orange — a sweet juice and an aromatic peel
Oregano — the flavour of pizza
Pandanus flower — the palm with rose fragrance
Pandanus leaf — mouth-watering and nutty
Paprika — the red and hot temper of Hungary
Paracress — pretty flowers, tickling-vibrating sensation
Parsley — the most popular green decoration
Pepper Rosé — grown in popularity in the last years
Peppermint — infusion and much more
Perilla — a fragrant herb in Japan
Pomegranate — the sour raisins of Northern India
Poppy — opium and yeast dumplings
Pumpkin — from México to Styria
Rice paddy herb — the most unusual lemon-scented herb
Rocket — the strong flavour on vogue
Rose — a romantic flower with sweet fragrance
Rosemary — flowers as blue as the Mediterranean Sea
Rue — one of the tricks in ancient Rome
Safflower — not more than fake saffron?
Saffron — the most expensive spice in the world
Sage — a secret in contemporary Italian cookery
Sassafras — from the capital of Jazz
Savory — who could imagine beans without it?
Sesame — a grain incredibly versatile
Sichuan Pepper — aromatic pungency from China’s highlands
Silphion — a mystery unsolved
Southernwood — a flavour almost forgotten
Sri Lanka Cinnamon — the most popular bark
Star anise — the decorative spice of Chinese cuisine
Sumac — the purple powder with a sour flavour
Tamarind — tart, sour and dark brown
Tarragon — sadly enough, only known in mustard paste
Tasmanian pepper — pungency from the Fifth Continent
Thyme — dreaming of Southern France
Tonka Beans — the beans with the fragrance of woodruff cup
Turmeric — the holy plant of ancient India
Vanilla — Aztec heritage
Vietnamese Cinnamon — of quills and noodle soups
Vietnamese coriander — the flavour of Southern Vietnam
Wasabi — Japan’s spice for raw fish
Water Pepper — a pungent herb for Japanese cookery
White Mustard — a most familiar taste in Western countries
Zedoary — bitterness’ merits

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