If there is one person I could listen to endlessly, it is Ian "Herbie" Hemphill, a truly interesting and entertaining gentleman who talks passionately and knowledgeably about the spice trade.
Herbie grew up on his parents' herb farm and, according to Rosemary Hemphill, his mother, "Herbs and spices are in his blood. He absorbed a tremendous variety of fragrances ... [as he] helped gather and dry wild roses and scented-leave geraniums for making into gifts; picked bay leaves from trees, prepared and packed them for sale; assisted his father in mixing dried herbs for different cooking needs; and blended spices for curry powders ... [etc]."
Herbie's Spice Notes is a lavish and expertly-written exploration into spices. The 497 page hardcover compendium is packed with a wealth of information, including explanations on the difference between herbs and spices; buying and storing; and uses in cooking. There is an A-Z (Ajowan to Zedoary, see page 417 for an explanation!) of spices, with origins and history; and references on the art of combining spices into blends.
Spice Notes by Ian Hemphill (Pan Macmillan) was first published in 2000 and is a classic addition to every food enthusiast's kitchen bookshelf. There is also Spice notes and recipes, a new edition by Ian Hemphilll, with recipes by Kate Hemphill.
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