History of Spices

Reference work entry


Spices had an important place in ancient and medieval cooking. Medical theories about diet and health overlapped with taste preferences. The recipes of classical Greece and Rome favor sharp flavors, while those of the Middle Ages result in dishes that are sweeter and more perfumed. Spanish and Portuguese colonization of the Americas circulated the chili pepper whose acceptance was considerably greater in Asia and Africa than in Europe. The origins of modern European cuisine can be identified in changes led by France during the seventeenth century. Among the key shifts was the displacement of spices in sauces and their general decline in all manner of recipes. Britain and North America retained a certain affection for spices through the cuisine of foreigners – Indian and Mexican restaurants, for example. Some of this love of the piquant has now spread through culinary globalization.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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