By Gary Paul Nabhan
Gary Paul Nabhan takes the reader on a shiny and far-ranging trip throughout time and area during this attention-grabbing examine the connection among the spice alternate and culinary imperialism. Drawing on his personal family’s heritage as spice investors, in addition to commute narratives, old debts, and his services as an ethnobotanist, Nabhan describes the severe roles that Semitic peoples and wasteland floras had in atmosphere the degree for globalized spice trade.
Traveling alongside 4 renowned alternate routes—the Silk highway, the Frankincense path, the Spice direction, and the Camino actual (for chiles and chocolate)—Nabhan follows the caravans of itinerant spice retailers from the frankincense-gathering grounds and historic harbors of the Arabian Peninsula to the port of Zayton at the China Sea to Santa Fe within the southwest usa. His tales, recipes, and linguistic analyses of cultural diffusion routes demonstrate the level to which aromatics similar to cumin, cinnamon, saffron, and peppers grew to become followed world wide as signature constituents of numerous cuisines. Cumin, Camels, and Caravans demonstrates that specific barren region cultures usually depicted in consistent conflict—Arabs and Jews—have spent a lot in their heritage taking part within the spice exchange and indicates how a extra virtuous multicultural globalized society might be completed within the future.
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Additional resources for Cumin, Camels, and Caravans: A Spice Odyssey
The best frankincense, hojari fusoos, or some comparable grade from the region of Yemen, cost the ancient Romans 6 denarii per pound. That was roughly the same as ginger, more than black pepper, and twice the price of cardamom. Myrrh was twice the price per volume at that time because it would dehydrate and thus shrink; however, it was never used 34 | Chapter 1 in the quantities that the Romans transported and consumed frankincense. In late Roman times, the cost of transporting a camel-load of frankincense from the southern Arabian Peninsula to the Mediterranean was 680 to 1,000 denarii, more than five times the cost of living a year in Palestine during the same era.
Its ruins sit on the edge of the coastal plain overlooking the Arabian Sea, sprawling over the site of the ancient trade center of Zhafar. Because it is just a short camel drive of eighteen miles from the highlands to this naturally protected harbor, the ports here have long attracted professions in addition to those of sailor and shipper. They have welcomed incense graders, incense makers, incense mixers, and carvers of incense smokers or censers called midkhān,13 as well as camel drovers and mule skinners of the kind that have brought aromatic goods in from the desert to the sea for upward of thirty-five hundred years.
36 | Chapter 1 It has made me even more tired to try and fathom it all. Weary, I return to my boarding room, where I begin to vaporize a few tears of hojari fusoos over small coals in the simple clay incense smoker. As I lay down on the bed, I realize that traveling nine thousand miles through space has not been enough. I must figure out a way to travel back in time. I close my eyes. The ethereal smoke of the frankincense carries me away. Chapter 2 Caravans Leaving Arabia Felix Following the trail of smoke rising from the tears of frankincense and myrrh, I leave the Arabian Peninsula, cross over to the Horn of Africa, and put my feet back on the lava-strewn earth along the volcanic rim of the Blue Nile Gorge.
Cumin, Camels, and Caravans: A Spice Odyssey by Gary Paul Nabhan