Cookbook Profile

The Spice and Herb Bible

A Cook's Guide

by Ian Hemphill


"The first fragmented but authentic records of the use of herbs and spices dates from the Pyramid Age in Egypt, around 2600-2100 BC. Onions and garlic were fed to 100,000 laborers who toiled in the construction of the Great Pyramid of Cheops for their medicinal properties and to preserve health."
          —Ian Hemphill

Spice and Herb Bible

Cooks have used herbs and spices for thousands of years, some for medicinal purposes, but most for their ability to transform ordinary food from bland to blissful. It is impossible to imagine life without basic flavor enhancers like salt and pepper, let alone the others we use on a daily basis such as garlic and parsley.

The Spice and Herb Bible by Ian Hemphill provides the most comprehensive information available about this fascinating subject, explaining the difference between a spice and an herb (page 11), when to use the fresh or dried variety (page 15), and the secrets to creating spice blends (page 422).

Arranged alphabetically—from Ajowan (a close relative of parsley) to Zedoary (a member of the turmeric and ginger family)—this 512-page volume examines 97 kinds of herbs and spices, and covers:

Spices are grouped according to their specific flavors: sweet, pungent, tangy, hot; herbs are categorized as mild, medium, or strong.

"Often the greatest pleasure in using spices is experienced when their individual flavor characteristics are combined with each other to create many completely different tastes," notes the author. He devotes an extensive section of the book to the various spice mixtures used in cultures around the world. What would Indian food be without the tantalizing tastes of Garam Masala, or French food without the delicately balanced bouquet of Fines Herbes, or Chinese food without the zesty taste of Five Spice Powder? Hemphill gives recipes for 29 spice mixes, and offers suggestions on how cooks can create their own personal blends.

In addition, there are informative sidebars with suggested quantities, foods they complement, the kinds of dishes they are used in, and other herbs and spices with which they can be combined, all enhanced by 32 full-color photographs.

The Spice and Herb Bible is not a cookbook, but a one-stop reference that will be an invaluable addition to every kitchen bookshelf.

About the Author

Ian Hemphill is considered one of the most knowledgeable spice experts in the world (Saveur magazine included him in its Top 100 survey in the February 2002 issue). A native of Sydney, Australia, he can't remember when herbs and spices were not a part of his life. Growing up and working in the family spice business he did everything from gathering and drying wild roses and scented-leafed geraniums for making into gifts, picking bay leaves from trees then preparing and packing them for sale, and assisting his father in mixing dried herbs and blending spices for different cooking needs. Hemphill is the owner of Herbie's Spices, a specialty shop in Sydney. Through his website, he supplies consumers around the world.

The Spice and Herb Bible


I. The World of Spices

The Spices in Our Lives * What is the Difference Between Spices and Herbs? * Buying and Storing Spices and Herbs * Using Fresh and Dried Spices and Herbs

II. Spice Notes

Ajowan * Alexanders * Allspice * Amchur * Angelica * Aniseed * Annatto Seed * Asafoetida * Balm * Barberry * Basil * Bay Leaves * Bergamot * Black Limes * Borage * Brown Cardamom * Bush Tomato * Calamus * Candle Nut * Caper * Caraway * Cardamom * Celery Seed * Chervil * Chicory * Chili * Chives * Cinnamon and Cassia * Cloves * Coriander * Cress * Cumin * Curry Leaf * Dill * Elder * Epazote * Fennel * Fenugreek * Fil´┐Ż Powder * Galangal * Garlic * Ginger * Grains of Paradise * Horseradish * Juniper * Kaffir Lime Leaves * Kokam * Lavender * Lemongrass * Lemon Myrtle * Lemon Verbena * Licorice Root * Lovage * Mahlab * Mastic * Mint * Mustard * Nigella * Nutmeg and Mace * Oregano and Marjoram * Orris Root * Pandan Leaf * Paprika * Parsley * Pepper- Mountain * Pepper—Pink Schinus * Pepper—Szechwan * Pepper—Vine * Pomegranate * Poppy Seed * Purslane * Rocket * Rosemary * Safflower * Saffron * Sage * Salad Burnet * Salt * Savory * Sesame * Sorrel * Star Anise * Sumac * Sweet Cicely * Tamarind * Tarragon * Thyme * Turmeric * Vanilla * Vietnamese Mint * Wattleseed * Zedoary

III. The Art of Combining Spices

Spices Found in Popular Cuisines * The Principles of Making Spice Blends * Baharat * Barbecue Spices * Berbere * Bouquet Garni * Cajun Spice Mix * Chaat Masala * Chermoula * Chinese Five Spice * Curry Powder * Dukkah * Fines Herbes * Garam Masala * Harissa * Herb and Vegetable Salts * Herbes de Provence * Italian Herbs * Mexican Chili Powder * Mixed Herbs * Mixed Spice—Apple Pie Spice * Panch Phora * Peppermill Blend * Pickling Spice * Quatre Epices * Ras el Hanout * Sambar Powder * Shichimi-Togarashi * Tagine Spice Mix * Tea and Coffee Masala * Za'atar


Buy the Book!


The Spice and Herb Bible
A Cook's Guide
by Ian Hemphill
March 2002; 512 pages; 7" x 10"
32 pages of full-color photographs, index
ISBN 0-7788-0042-3 paperback $27.95 in Canada / $22.95 in USA
ISBN: 0-7788-0047-4 hardcover $37.95 in Canada / $35.00 US
Robert Rose Inc.
Distributed in North America by Firefly Books.
Information provided by the publisher.


The Spice and Herb Bible



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This page created June 2002, modified 2007