on 1 September 2007
This is a bit like Mark Kurlanski's book about cod, history seen from the perspective of a popular foodstuff. It's fantastically researched and provides a fascinating insight into the reasons for the first circumnavigations. Those sailors weren't just clocking up seamiles, there were huge rewards up for grabs by the first European to find the source of cloves and nutmeg and cut out the middle man. Excellent chapter on all the historical beliefs about spices spicing up people's sex lives. I, for one, will never look at a ginger nut the same way again.
on 31 October 2015
Excellent book, which blows away all that stuff about people in the Middle Ages eating highly spiced food to hide the taste of rotten meat and instead illuminates the many reasons - medicinal, spiritual and aphrodisiac among others - that made spices so sought-after and valuable. Erudite and well-researched but highly readable at the same time - I could barely put it down.