Exercise A Herbs and Spices

There is no real botanical distinction between herbs and spiccs. Herbs are usually described as aromatic leaves or seeds from plants native to temperate regions, while spiccs arc various parts of plants diat are native to tropical areas. Thus, the distinction between herbs and spices is only a geographic one. In common usage, the terms are often interchangeable. We may speak of "spicy" mustard, yet mustard plants are technically herbs native to temperate areas.

YVc can only speculate as to how and when early societies first began using spiccs. Historical records from the time of the ancient Egyptian civilization describe many familiar herbs and spiccs. From the time of the ancient civilizations through the Renaissance, spiccs were important commodities. Fortunes rose and fell as one country after another tried to dominate the spicc-rich islands in the Hast Indies. The search for quicker routes to these islands drove the Age of Exploration in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Today, spiccs arc still prominently marketed throughout rhc world.

Many planr families contain herbs and spiccs, but four families stand out because they contain a large number of herbs. These are the mint family (with spearmint, peppermint, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, basil, and thyme), the parsley family (with parsley, caraway, dill, fennel, celery, anise, coriander, cilantro, cumin, and chervil ), the lily family (with onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and chives), and the mustard family (with black and white mustard and horseradish). In this lab, we will examine many of die herbs and spices known to die ancient world as well as some New World spices.

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