Edition: 2022
Pages: 172
Series: EL
ISBN: 9788858124819

Spices. A history of discoveries, avarice and abundance

Francesco Antinucci


Edhasa (Spain and Latin America), Donker (Netherlands)



The history of a useless commodity, devoid of nutritional, curative or practical value, which for ten centuries ruled the world.

Why do people speak English in America?
Why does only one country in South America speak Portuguese?
Why did Columbus discover America?
There is only one answer: spices.

Nowadays we think of spices as charming complements to our meals. Yet for the longest time they were the engine of the world economy (of all the worlds: ancient, medieval and modern) and as a result determined a large part of its history.
For example, the product that was most transported was pepper, a substance that serves no purpose, as indeed was true of all the other spices that accompanied the pepper cargo. But why does man desire all these completely useless products? Because in reality they fulfil an even more important function than the useful ones. While the useful ones serve to keep people alive – more or less comfortably – these instead serve to represent him, to project into the world a certain image of self, an image of luxury. And since representation, the construction of one’s own image, has been and continues to be more important for man than any functional value, the spice rush generated the most lucrative economic activity in past human history. And this in turn has determined a large portion of the politics and history of states.
This book tells this history (a story of trade, power, sea routes, and financial bubbles) along with the history of the culinary arts, the main engine of spices.
A chronological journey down the spice routes that ends each chapter with a spicy recipe readers are invited to try out at home.

The author

Francesco Antinucci

Francesco Antinucci, già Direttore di ricerca all’Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione del CNR, ha svolto parte della sua attività di ricerca negli Stati Uniti, al Dipartimento di Psicologia dell’Università di California a Berkeley, alla School of Information Studies della stessa università e al Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) della Xerox.

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