I'm just starting to read some books on the world history of spices. It has always fascinated me to come upon little known spices***(see note at bottom) many of which are part of the cooking of a very small area. In my limited reading thus far, I have come upon three spices new to me.
One is Turkish, Salep.
The second is Greek, Masticha. Aside from the the many uses of mastich, the berries of this plant can be "used to make sausage".
The third is Kala Jeera(this is the only spice unknown to me in Penzey's catalogue of spices they sell.)
from Penzeys.com: "Known as black cumin because of the shape of the seed (not the flavor), or Shah Jeera, kala jeera (zira) is prized by Indian and Pakistani cooks. Kala jeera is used in small amounts because of its exotic, flowery flavor. It is often confused with jeera (regular cumin) and kalonji."
I recently found and purchased at my local Whole Foods Market some 'Long Pepper' which, it turns out, was used before Black Pepper was discovered and traded. I have also bought a few of the ground red peppers used in Moroccan/Mediterranean/ Armenian cooking:
--red aleppo pepper(what a difference it makes in hoomus!)
--urfa pepper http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urfa_Biber
Note: *** My definition of spices here is very specific. So please don't include herbs (green, stems or leaves) on this thread!
This is what I have in mind, from Wikipedia:
"Spices can be grouped as:
Dried fruits** or seeds, such as fennel, mustard, and black pepper , chile peppers
Arils, such as mace.
Barks, such as cinnamon and cassia.
Dried flower buds, such as cloves.
Stigmas, such as saffron.
Roots and rhizomes, such as turmeric, ginger and galingal.
Resins, such as asafoetida."
(** remember- fruits, as a botanical term, does not just mean apples,oranges etc.)
Plse tell us about any unusual spices you have learned about or used! Thanks much!