Cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, coffee… These are all spices you’ll find in the kitchen cupboard, but do you know where they come from or what they taste like before they’re packaged and branded and sold in the supermarket? Neither did I, which is why I found the spice tour we took around a plantation in Zanzibar intriguing.
We had two local tour guides who spent the morning taking us from plant to plant, letting us touch and taste and smell everything from vanilla to iodine to starfruit to henna. I don’t know anything about plants or spices and even less about cooking, but I found the tour fascinating. Our guides told us not only how to make our meals more tasty, but also how to use these spices for medicinal purposes, as makeup and as perfume. It was enlightening.
At the end of the tour we were served a traditional home-cooked Zanzibari meal enhanced with the spices we had just learned about, one that we had to eat with our hands as they do in Africa. To our great surprise, we also received gifts of hats, a handbag and a tie handwoven from banana leaves! Needless to say they didn’t make the trip home, but they did end our tour on a memorably lighthearted note.
Would you consider taking a spice tour? Or do you know all about spices already? What is your favourite spice and why?