Growing up, I watched my mom and grandmother create delicious meals with a cornucopia of ingredients. Both of their pantries were well stocked with a diverse collection of spices and herbs that always overwhelmed me. They seemed to instinctively or intuitively know which one was perfect for each meal. This always amazed me. Well, years have gone by and I’m not really any wiser. I know some basics, but I really want to reach beyond the scope of cinnamon and garlic. I’ve never really taken the time to understand the plethora of herbs and spices that are available to us and how they can make a huge impact on our taste buds if used correctly. Well, now I can, with The Spice & Herb Bible, 3rd edition.
The Spice & Herb Bible is one of the most comprehensive culinary compendiums anyone could ask for. It’s huge, having 800 pages of essential and valuable information. It covers such a variety of spices and herbs, many of which I’ve not heard of before, like candlenut, lovage, bergamot, and wattleseed. It has a multitude of beautiful and colorful images that openly invites us to inquire about each herb/spice and be inspired to use them.
It’s broken into three parts, Part One: The World of Spices, walks us through the history of the spice trade starting at 2000 BCE. It shares the characteristics and differences of each. Okay, I blush at not really understanding the difference between herbs and spices. In general, the leaf of a plant is used as an herb, and the rest of the plant is dried and used as a spice. But, this book covers are many more examples as well. It briefly shares that spices and herbs can also be used for medicinal uses. Want to grow your own herbs and learn how to dry and store them? Get cutting-edge information on how to do just that.
Part Two: Spice Note, is where all the wisdom begins. You’ll be introduced to, or reintroduced to spices and herbs from A-Z, Ajowan to Zedoary. Each one is showcased with pertinent information. They share a brief overview, a clear image, known by other names, and what other herbs they can be combined with. You’ll also be informed on how each herb or spice is processed, how to buy and store them, and how to use them effectively.
I’m so impressed with the details provided. When a new herb has been presented to me, I’m thinking, what is it, what does it taste like, and how do I use it. I have tried a few new herbs blindly in the past, but when my family said, ‘why does this taste weird’, I kind of recoiled and shied away from trying them again.
No worries now, this culinary bible shares what each herb and spice tastes like and that’s so important, you don’t want your flavors to clash, overwhelm, or offend a recipe. They offer suggestions on what foods each herb/spice will taste great with and how much to use. They also include a tantalizing recipe or two for each of the herbs/spices featured. The guesswork is completely taken out so you’re cooking experience will be virtually goof-proof.
Part Three: The Art of Combining Spices. This section is really eye-opening, you’ll learn how to make unique and special blends with their formulas, or even test drive making your own. The freedom and confidence you’ll glean from these pages are understated.
The Herb and Spice Bible is the perfect companion for both the seasoned and aspiring chef. Having this book as a resource and backup has helped me improve my knowledge of flavor combinations and I find myself referring to it more and more. It’s perforated with lots of useful tips and techniques that make me look like I know what I’m doing. Creating new and flavorful dishes is now a little more exciting. I highly recommend this book to everyone who loves to create in the kitchen.
Disclaimer: I received product to facilitate a review. All opinions are my own, yours may differ.