More precious than gold in a remote past, spices tell of centuries of history and legendary eras. They have always fascinated mankind and aroused insatiable greed. Crimes, conquests and other tragic events tell the sad tale. Were the spices responsible for bewitching men into unleashing such rage over the centuries?
Nobody can tell. One thing is for sure: to have the privilege of flavouring their cooking with this treasure, Greeks, Arabs, Portuguese, the French and other nations took to the Spice Route. The West Indies soon became the target of their quest.
Spices kept secrets that have finally been disclosed with the passing years. Their aromatic, therapeutic and even aphrodisiac properties are now known all over the world. Fruit, flower, bark, seed or leaf, they enchant our palate with warm exotic flavours. Nowadays, no effort is needed anymore to obtain them for spices are available everywhere and they transport us away to their sublime universe of taste pleasure. Let's discover some specimens of this natural treasure.

Nutmeg: its sweetness shows in its dark orange-coloured skin. The nutmeg originates from Indonesia and has made its way to the West Indies where it is currently cultivated. Since then it has been widely used in this area as well for sweet as salted dishes. The nutmeg is very fragrant and looks like a small egg that is grated to get a precious powder. A pinch of it is enough to give a touch of originality to the bechamel sauce.

 

Vanilla: a dark delicate almost satin skin for one of the most expensive agricultural products of the world. It is the fruit of the Vanilla Planifolia orchid. As far as cultivation and preparation are concerned, long and scrupulous care is required to get the best vanilla, which explains its value. It is commonly known as "pod". Vanilla is considered one of the most refined spices for its subtle taste and fragrance. According to an Aztec legend, the Vanilla creeper comes from the blood of a young princess that was imprisoned in a tower. It is believed that she deliberately hurt herself to create the creeper for her lover to join her. Consequently, vanilla is thought to be the spice of love. In Martinique, it is an essential ingredient for the coconut custard.

 

Cinnamon: The cinnamon tree bark has dark colour, is remarkably sweet with a warm aromatic taste and a bewitching fragrance. It has been known since antiquity and was used by the Egyptians during the embalming rite. It is now cultivated throughout the world and Sri Lanka is said to have the best. It is sold in all its forms: stick, powder or essential oil. It serves as an ingredient in many apple or chocolate-based desserts. Cinnamon is commonly used in Indian cooking but also in the cosmetics industry. It is believed to have aphrodisiac and antiseptic properties. In Martinique, it admirably brings out the flavour of the traditional chocolate drink enjoyed at first communion ceremonies.

 

Ginger: a root that is mainly cultivated in China, Japan, Jamaica and Africa. It suits all kinds of dishes and desserts with its hot flavour-like appeal. Ginger is very much in fashion: it is known for its stimulating, reviving, aphrodisiac and relaxing properties. It is used in the making of many cosmetic goods. Its fragrance alone provides a foretaste of its qualities. You should try some chicken with coconut milk and grated ginger for it is quite delightful.

 

Paprika: Red in spice form to flavour and colour dishes from all over the world. Paprika actually comes from sweet pepper. It is hot and fruity all at once. Paprika is widely used in the Spanish, Hungarian and Asian cooking. It is very popular in the West Indies.

 

  Saffron: A scent of hay, some metallic overtones, and a hot and sensual aroma for a smooth sweet flavour. Saffron has been part of history for more than 3000 years. It mixes with different cultures, spanning continents all over the world. Its favourite stops are Morocco, India and Central Asia

 

 

You got it: bewitching colours and fragrances are waiting for you to visit the Spice Route's villas and bungalows… Once you'll taste them you may not be able to do without them…