This book is a labor of love that took a long time to make. (And, may I add, how much enjoyment I got out of it, too.) For three years I traveled around the Indian Ocean, following the old spice route – looking for where flavor was born.
I had the feeling that I would find many interesting things – that’s why I set off after all. I knew much of the history, spiced were the reason Columbus went west, why Vasco da Gama dared sail off the map, around Africa. Spices have created enormous riches, caused wars, formed bonds between people. All in all spices have been instrumental making the world what it is today. And to improve the food we eat.
Still I was constantly surprised how different things were, how often my preconceptions were shattered and the world I knew expanded. On Reunion Island I had the best vanilla I have ever tasted, and I learned that it could be used in much more than just desserts. In India I got to see where pepper and cardamom grows, and I got to taste Indian food that was spicy in a way I have never experienced in an Indian restaurant in America or Europe. I learned how a slow baked leg of lamb can never be slow enough – In Oman it takes 48 hours – and how to transform the world’s most boring salad into something exciting and exotic in just ten seconds.
The book has had an overwhelmingly warm reception both in the US and internationally. In April 2008 it was named Best Foreign Cookbook at Gourmand World Cookbook Award.
Published on Chronicle Books, 2007.