The Spice of Life!
Food, flavors, spices, tastes - they very across the world. Food habits are shaped by environment, climate, available ingredients and often class and income. Often an "exotic" food, is just the staple diet of a region.
Spices are a huge part of international cuisine. A spice is just a flavoring derived from a plant. In contrast to herbs, spices are almost always dried and ground before use.
Spices around the world
Chinese Cuisine: Aniseed, Bean Paste, Chile Oil, Garlic, Gingerroot, Green Onions, Hot Red Peppers, Sesame Oil, Sesame Seeds, Soy Sauce, Star Aise
Mexican Cuisine: Bell Peppers, Chiles, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Coriander Seeds, Cumin Seeds, Garlic, Lime, Onions, Oregano, Vanilla
French Cuisine: Bay Leaves, Black Pepper, Chervil, Chives, Fines Herbes, Garlic, Green and Pink Peppercorns, Marjoram, Nutmeg, Onions, Parsley, Rosemary, Shallots, Tarragon, Thyme
North African Cuisine: Cilantro, Cinnamon, Coriander Seeds, Cumin Seeds, Garlic, Gingerroot, Mint, Red Pepper, Saffron, Turmeric (Cooking Light,
To get the best use out of spices, make sure you store them in an airtight container. Spices should be replaced every 6 months, but will retain their flavor for up to 5 years.
Lightly "toasting" spices in a dry skillet over low heat, will help relase aroma and flavor. Even ground spices can benefit from a light toast.