Spices have always played a very important role in the diet of human beings, they have been used both to preserve and to season food.
Spices are substances of vegetable origin that are used to season and preserve food. They have a great flavoring capacity, so they are usually used in small quantities, and can be mixed together to achieve different combinations. Most come from Asia, although there are also some from the Mediterranean and America.
Saffron, pepper, paprika, cardamom, clove, oregano, walnut and cinnamon are some of the most consumed spices in the world.
The great civilizations of the Ancient Age also used spices in various ways: the Egyptians used them as a condiment, but also as cosmetics and even in lotions related to embalming.
Greeks and Romans used spices in medicine, in the kitchen and in some religious celebrations.
In the Middle Ages , there is a decrease in the use of spices in European cuisine, while Arabs stand out for the use and knowledge of these products.
Spices have also played an important role in the preparation of sauces , whose first references we find in medieval times.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the first industrial sauces began to be manufactured, in which spices played a prominent role in obtaining different flavors and differentiating them from the competition.
The trade in spices supposed wealth and power. For this reason, it has been one of the tasks to which most societies have dedicated themselves, and especially those that developed on both shores of the Mediterranean.
The Egyptians were the first to seek the route to the East, but it was the Phoenicians who first established a spice market and established the so-called "Spice Route" strong>.
This town, eminently navigator, had for a long time the monopoly of this trade, since they were the only ones who knew the exact origin of the spices and did not share the secret with anyone.
Subsequently, the Romans established an annual route from the eastern coast of Egypt to the Moluccan Islands.
This route started in April and returned in October, to take advantage of the monsoons. They also used a land route, the Silk Road, to trade in spices.
The fall of the Western Roman Empire and the conquest of Alexandria by Islam led to a decline in the trade of spices by Europeans, an activity that began to recover with the Crusades.
We must underline the role of Genoa and Venice, which owe much of their prosperity at this time to the trade of these products.
It has always been said that Columbus discovered America thanks to spices. And it is true. Christopher Columbus was looking for an alternative route to reach the Indies and not depend on the caravans that crossed Asia.
But he not only discovered the alternative route, but also a new continent, new foods - like potatoes or tomatoes - and new spices - like the allspice or vanilla -.
For its part, the Portuguese, also looking for an alternative to the Mediterranean border Africa , discovering on the way several unknown spices.
Currently, it is easy to find a large number of spices in all corners of the planet and enjoy them to flavor our dishes.