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At once familiar and exotic, spices are rare things, comforting us in favorite dishes while evoking far-flung countries, Arabian souks, colonial conquests and vast fortunes. John O'Connell introduces us to spices and their unique properties, both medical and magical, alongside the fascinating histories behind both kitchen staples and esoteric luxuries.

A tasty compendium of spices and a fascinating history and wide array of uses of the world's favorite flavors -- The Book of Spice: From Anise to Zedoary reveals the amazing history of spices both familiar and esoteric. John O'Connell's erudite chapters combine history with insights into art, religion, medicine, science, and is richly seasoned with anecdotes and recipes.

Discover why Cleopatra bathed in saffron and mare's milk, why wormwood-laced absinthe caused eighteenth century drinkers to hallucinate and how cloves harvested in remote Indonesian islands found their way into a kitchen in ancient Syria. Almost every kitchen contains a bottle of cloves or a stick of cinnamon, almost every dish a pinch of something, whether chili or cumin. The Book of Spice is culinary history at its most appetizing.

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