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On Spice: Advice, Wisdom, and History with a Grain of Saltiness

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A revealing look at the history and production of spices, with modern, no-nonsense advice on using them at home—salt, saffron, vanilla, ginger, turmeric, and much more.

Every home cook has thoughts on the right and wrong ways to use spices. These beliefs are passed down in family recipes and pronounced by television chefs, but where do such ideas come from? Many are little better than superstition, and most serve only to reinforce a cook’s sense of superiority or cover for their insecurities. It doesn’t have to be this way.

These notes On Spice come from three generations of a family in the spice trade, and dozens upon dozens of their collected spice guides and stories. Inside, you’ll learn where spices come from: historically, geographically, botanically, and in the modern market. You’ll see snapshots of life in a spice shop, how the flavors and stories can infuse not just meals but life and relationships. And you’ll get straightforward advice delivered with wry wit.

Discover why:

  • Salt grinders are useless
  • Saffron is worth its weight in gold (as long as it’s pure)
  • That jar of cinnamon almost certainly isn’t
  • Vanilla is far more risqué than you think


With chapters on seeds (fennel, aniseed, caraway, mustard, cumin, and more) and herbs (basic, cilantro, dill, marjoram, rosemary, safe, and more),you will learn to stop worrying and love your spice rack.

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