cover art for Nutmeg, Cloves, Vanilla; A quest for the most expensive spices in the world!

The Delicious Legacy

Nutmeg, Cloves, Vanilla; A quest for the most expensive spices in the world!

Season 4, Ep. 18


According to some definitions, "Globalisation is a term used to describe how trade and technology have made the world into a more connected and interdependent place."

But this is not a new phenomenon. For many centuries, this process was happening driven partly or mostly because of the lust for spices. Rare, highly prized and expensive.

Today we will explore the history of three of these spices which are so important to the story of our globalised world.

But most importantly this story is also a story of the Spice Islands; Deep in Indonesia, there where the amazing local sailors and merchants of Banda Islands. The Bandanese became the undisputed leaders of the inter island trade of spices, travelling in fleets of kora-kora canoes, propelled by rowers on platforms of bamboo lashed five feet away on either side of the canoe proper...

Our spices:

-"Karyophyllon" in Ancient Greek was our Cloves.

The Roman writer Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE) was the first to describe cloves in the West in his Natural History (70 CE) where he recorded that “there is also in India a grain resembling that of pepper but larger and more fragile, called caryophyllom, which is reported to grow on the Indian lotus tree; it is imported here for the sake of its scent”

-Nutmeg and mace are frequently mentioned in the oldest scriptures of Hinduism in India, the Vedas, composed between 1500 and 1000 BCE.

-Madagascar is synonymous with vanilla. But what we know and think and eat as vanilla, is not native to Madagascar; it originated some 10,000 miles away...

Let's find out!

Music by Pavlos Kapralos


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