Herbs and spices provide flavor rather than substance to food. They are also used in medicine, added to perfume, and have spiritual properties, as well. The use of spices dates back TO 50,000 BCE. Egyptians used herbs for embalming while Greeks and Romans used spices and herbs in rituals, especially during this time of year (Halloween and All Souls Day). They were burned as an offering to their gods and used in medicines. In general, spices are more costly than herbs and were once worth more than gold.
What are the differences between herbs and spices? Herbs are leaves of a plant. Spices are dried seeds, roots, stems, bark, fruit, and seeds of a plant. Some plants, such as dill, are used as both an herb in the form of dill weed and a spice in the form of dill seed. Herbs and spices are used to flavor, color, and preserve foods. Spices are used in warmer climates. Curry is not a spice, but rather a combination of spices. A general rule when using fresh herbs for recipes is to use 2 1/2 times the amount of fresh herbs for dry herbs.
Sacred herbs include myrrh and frankincense, used since ancient times for blessing and protection, and white sage and cedar, which are used by Native Americans for spiritual cleansing and smudging.
According to folklore, below are listed some spices and their energy:
- Vanilla comes from the dried fruit of a plant; it has love and sexual energy. Vanilla is native to Central America.
- Cinnamon comes from the bark of a plant and has love and money energy.
- Ginger comes from the root of a plant and has love and money energy. Ginger was once more expensive than diamonds.
- Mace comes from the Aril part of the plant (the bright red shell covering on nutmeg) is an earthy spice and has psychic awareness energy, perfect for Halloween.
I have incorporated wonderful spices for our featured recipe: Butternut Squash Bread.
Looking for spices for your holiday dishes? How about customized spice blends you can use anytime and not just for the holiday season? Take our special open-to-the-public culinary tour on Friday, November 30, where we will visit with Tina and Toni at Grassia’s Italian Market Spice Shop, and you can create your own custom spice blend!