Spice Market

Author: Jane Lawson

Publisher: Murdoch Books (RRP $54.99)

ISBN: 978 1 74196 038 9

I waved this very large book (think something the size of a small concrete block) under the nose of my chef friend who is around at the moment and his response was rather dismissive. “It’s a book of recipes which use spices,” he said and took no further interest.

It is an Australian publication and gives 275 recipes, grouped rather unusually by the plant origin of the spice which is often but a minor addition to the recipe. So the chapter on seeds and pods covers recipes using spices from ajowan and aniseed through to vanilla. The chapter on berries and flowers covers allspice to surnac and wolfberry. Then there are chapters on seeds that come from roots and bark and on spice pastes and spice mixes. So the recipes are not grouped in a convenient manner, given that few of us start a meal by thinking we will cook with cinnamon tonight, or maybe liquorice root. The actual recipes are straightforward and cover an eclectic mix of anything and everything from around the world.

There is some handy background information on each of the 40 or so spices included, though I hoped for some growing information on varieties that could be produced by the self sufficient gardener in temperate and mild climates. There isn’t. Clearly you buy them.

It is a nicely presented soft cover book with the usual wonderful photographs though not that many of the recipes are illustrated. This is a book to browse before you buy.