Spices were once worth their weight in gold, and fortunes were made if one’s ship successfully returned from the Spice Islands. Throughout much of history, a person’s place in society was often judged by how much spice he could afford to display on his table and use in his cooking. However, until modern times, very few people in the Western world knew what the plants that furnished these highly valued commodities looked like. Have you ever seen a cinnamon tree? Do you know what part of the plant is used to make mace, a popular spice used in pumpkin pies? In this one-hour program, food historian Tames Alan will share her knowledge about the plants that yield these aromatic treasures.

In this entertaining and informative horticultural lecture on spices, the audience will gain insight, both historical and modern, into the spice trade and its impact on Western culture and cooking. Come learn the significance of a medieval spice tray and what went into the more-common spice blends used in ethnic cooking. Also covered by extensive slides will be a close look at the various plants, the parts that were harvested, and their preparation for use in cooking. As with all of Tames’ programs, there will be a question-and-answer period at the end.

Here are a few spice blend recipes for you to enjoy.