Travel, adventure, and food are three of my favorite things, and one of those has historically brought them all together…spice. The development of the spice trade led to extensive travel, adventure and exploration. Advancements in navigation, ship and sail technology, sailing routes around the Cape of Good Hope, even the discovery of the Americas all came about as a result of mankind’s hunger for spice or more exactly, the wealth that followed in its acquisition and sale. Famous explorers Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, and Christopher Columbus were all searching for faster trade routes to India and other spice producing areas when they made the discoveries for which they are now famous.
Earlier uses of spice revolved around preservation of food and medicinal purposes. Most spices contain flavonoids aiding in the absorption of nutrients, and have high levels of antioxidants. The increased levels of antioxidants work as a natural preservative, while early physicians made use of their antimicrobial properties. The wealthy Europeans desire to “spice” up their food led to pepper, clove, cinnamon and nutmeg becoming such a valuable commodity, they were often used in place of money.
Spice trade is also responsible for the spread of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. Spice traders not only carried spice, they carried new ideas and knowledge, ideas and information that brought about the dawn of the Renaissance, bringing Europe out of the dark ages. Spice caused the maps to be redrawn, created conflicts, and established empires.
‘Every country I would go to, even if it was just on a modeling job, I would go to their markets. If I went to Morocco for ‘Elle’ magazine, I would be in the spice markets during my off time and just come back with a suitcase full of stuff that I really wanted to try.’ Padma Lakshmi, host of Emmy-winning Top Chef
‘Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I’m taking with me when I go.’ Erma Bombeck
Additional posts from the United Arab Emirates;