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Handbook of Spices, Seasonings, and Flavorings

by: Susheela Raghavan Uhl

Lancaster PA: Technomic Publishing Co. 2000, $79.95, Hardbound

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 2001 Issue: 8(1) page(s): 22

The Chinese know the importance of taste. This book offers a brief look at spices and seasonings in terms of their history, availability, function, and application. It has an A to Z discussion of sixty-five of them and nine emerging sweet and bitter flavorings such as chocolate and vanilla. In addition, it explores flavor groupings, and it looks at ethnic cuisines, and also details eight spice blends and seasonings. For each, there is information on properties, uses, preparation techniques, and applications, as well as scientific names, origins and varieties, common names, its ususal form, chemical components, and more.

In addition, the book provides a tiny taste of therapeutic usage and folklore. Unfortunately, these are all too shallow, sometimes but one sentence about use in one country; other times four or more paragraphs with a more global view. The book gives names of the spices, but not in all languages or dialects, and does not always advise which is which. What is intended as a global handbook for today’s food professional falls short and sometimes provides confusion. For example, Szechuan pepper or zanthoxylum is also written as Sichuan pepper, no explanation provided. Transliterations with consistency was needed. So was a sophisticated editor to provide consistency in content.

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