Hill, owner of World Merchants, Spice, Herb and Tea House in Seattle, has traveled the globe in search of spices. In this book he generously shares the wealth of knowledge he's brought back. Information on 350 spices and herbs is included, with details on alternate and botanical names, plant family, countries of origin and cultivation, seasons of harvest, parts used, and colors to look for. There are also 75 different recipes and some 200 color photos. Hill's enthusiasm for his subject shines through, especially in the short essays covering historical and culinary details of individual herbs and spices. Jill Norman's superb Herbs and Spices: The Cook's Reference covers much of the same territory, but the alphabetic arrangement of Hill's book is perhaps easier to use than Norman's grouping by aroma and flavor. Hill's broader scope also means cooks will discover spices such as boldina leaf that are not included in Norman's book. On the other hand, the gorgeous visual design of Norman's book trumps the illustrations in Hill's.
Bottom Line Public libraries with limited budgets will definitely want Norman's book, but Hill's engaging and entertaining guide to herbs and spices would also be an excellent addition to any library's culinary collection. --John Charles, Scottsdale P.L., AZ (Library Journal
, January 15, 2005)
The Contemporary Encyclopedia of Herbs & Spices is intended to attract dustings of fenugreek and drippings of gumbo with sassafras. Tony Hill lards his book with recipes that make you want to measure out anise-hyssop and cardamom lavishly after reading one of his chapters on the origins, alternate names and significant uses for both exotic and predictable seasonings.
Hill, who did much of his research while traveling as proprietor of the World Merchants spice and tea house in Seattle, is way ahead of cookbook authors who cling to parsley in a cilantro world. With spices so widely available on the Internet, he encourages exploration, not only describing what nigella seeds are (not spawn of Lawson but an Indian flavoring) but how to use them (to bake surprisingly easy crackers for cheese). This is the book for anyone who has been lucky enough to find grains of paradise or Aleppo pepper and wonders where to go from there. (Los Angeles Times, December 5, 2004)
From the Inside Flap
"The mere word 'spice' conjures up images of sailing ships and treasures from distant lands. Wars have been waged for cargos of cloves from the Banda Islands and empires bought and sold for trading rights to nutmeg. Ransoms and tribute were paid to the Emperor with spices in the days of old, outstripping even the value of gold. They all know that the secret to revealing food's wonders was in the spice."
Ingredients from around the world are more widely available to today's cooks than ever before, putting an international array of culinary possibilities within easy reach. An Understanding of herbs and spices is essential to making the most of this new "global Kitchen"—and Tony Hill's comprehensive, up-to-date resource is the ultimate guide to cooking with the seasonings that bring the world's cuisines to life.
In lively fashion, The Contemporary Encyclopedia of Herbs and Spices offers in-depth information on more than 350 herbs, spices, and spice blends. Entries range from familiar favorites like allspice to less familiar choices such as Kaffir limes leaves, and from American blends like Memphis-style dry rubs to more exotic seasonings such as Tunisian five-spice. Defining spice as any part of a plant that adds significant flavor—including seeds, barks, fruits, roots, leaves, stems, resins, flowers, and pods—this encyclopedia covers everything from availability to historical and botanical origins to cooking guidelines, plus more than 75 recipes that bring this colorful culinary world to life.
As acclaimed spice merchant and author Tony Hill writes, food is the passport to other cultures, and it is almost always the herbs and spices native to a region that create the "signature" taste people recognize and crave. Whether it's choosing between Allepo or maresh pepper, deciding whether to use Greek or Mexican oregano, or selecting just the right chile to turn up the heat in fresh salsa, the information in this invaluable reference will help you bring authentic flavor to any dish, no matter what its place of origin.
International in scope, with an eye toward up-to-the-minute seasonings, the encyclopedia explores the rich spectrum of herbs and spices used in cuisines all over the globe. Packed with need-to-know information, it is an invaluable tool that culinary enthusiast will turn to time and again.