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Spice: The History of a Temptation Paperback – August 9, 2005
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Everyone knows a little bit of the story, how the desire to control the spice trade drove Western nations deep into the heart of the Age of Discovery, the Portuguese sponsoring Da Gama's push to India; the Spanish underwriting the many attempts of Columbus to get to India another way. The Western madness for spice was just about peaking in this time, and spice would all too soon become--gasp--common, much like the afterthought condiment it is for so many today. Who thinks twice about pepper any longer?
And yet, the history is long and glorious, and the window spice throws open on Western culture yields a glorious view. Jack Turner is a skilled tour guide and story teller. He starts his narrative with the 16th century quest for spice, then loops back into three mains sections of text: Palate, Body, and Spirit. Turner has mined classic and Medieval literature for any and every possible mention of spice and demonstrates how fixated the West became from the time of Augustus in Rome through to relatively modern times. He winds his narrative through the way spice was used in the foods of the wealthy (and puts to sleep the nostrum about rotting food), as a medicine, a sex aid, and as an aromatic channel to the gods of the time and place. He ably demonstrates the constant underlying tension surrounding spice--that it was both attractive and repellent, that it represented fabulous wealth and power for some and, for others, an abhorrence of the exotic East that exists to this day.
This is not an easy story to tell. But Turner makes it appear effortless. Pull a chair close to the fire, pour a draught of spiced wine, crack open Jack Turner's Spice and you'll read your way into the wee hours of the night. --Schuyler Ingle --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Turner is scholarly but also witty and informal in his writing. You will learn a lot and also have a lot of fun while reading his book.
Spices were costly and mysterious, and people thought that they came from Paradise itself, the place in the East from which Adam and Eve had been banished. It was to gain spices that Columbus sailed, and spices he did bring back, but they were disappointments; that did not stop the continued search for them, and the resultant expansion of the world. Turner shows that spices were not really used to help make old meat palatable; fresh meat was cheaper than spices. But they were used to improve wine, a use that became unnecessary after bottle and cork technology came in the sixteenth century.Read more ›
With this work the author has given us a very readable history of spices and the spice trade, starting from the beginning dating back to ancient Egypt and beyond. Of course the majority of the book is rather Eurocentric, but hey, that is where the author was educated, did his research and wrote the book. I suppose if you want a history such as this that is not Eurocentric, then you should probably find a non European author! Anyway, the author has discussed at length the impact spice has had upon world civilization. It was the prime motivator during the Age of Discovery and of course an undeniable pillar of Western Civilization along with quite a number of other civilizations throughout history. Today we have oil; in days gone by we had spice!
The author's organization of the book is different, but once you get use to it, it does make sense. At times he will bounce around just a bit, from country to country; from civilization to civilization.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I haven't gotten very far into the book (it is thick!), but so far I am very intrigued by the direction the author is taking as well as his style! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Twila Chaplin
Interesting story though it started to get repetitive and it seemed like it was about 50 pages to long.Published 3 months ago by A. K.
I found this book very enjoyable to read, with a wealth of information and a liberal sprinkling of humor. Read morePublished 4 months ago by D. Suiter
Book is much longer than it needs to be. Too many examples not enough substance.Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
A low ratio of information to words. Entire pages can be summed up in one or two sentences. The information could have been presented in a more organized way. Read morePublished 9 months ago by jordan r oost
Very interesting history of spice/s.Well written and holds your attention with facts, historical and human.Published 15 months ago by Joanne S. Buchanan
Book is well researched and many parts of it was interesting. However, parts of it did not hold my interest and found myself skipping large sections of it. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Bwlva