Allspice, cinnamon, cilantro, and dill. Fairly common herbs and spices in Canadian kitchens these days. But what about asafoetida, fenugreek and galangal? Those are also herbs and spices you may see popping up in your list of ingredients in cookbooks these days. If you’re not familiar with some of these names, I’ve been poring over just the book to help you out.
The Spice and Herb Bible is quite a weighty tome. The author of this guide to everything you need to know about herbs and spices is Ian Hemphill. He lives in Sydney, Australia, where he runs a shop called Herbie’s Spices. I had heard of this shop before when I was visiting Australia years ago, and when I found out he was going to be in Vancouver at the same time I was, I really wanted to meet him. We met at one of the big spice and grocery shops in Vancouver’s Punjabi Market, which really got him going with all the different goods on display there.
The book is his way of getting his knowledge out around the world. The Spice and Herb Bible had just arrived at my house when my nephew was visiting, who is just getting into cooking, and he picked it up and couldn’t put it down until I had to grab it from him and then I was captivated going from one topic to the other, because it is filled with so much fascinating history and information. Ian’s daughter Kate is a chef, and she provides lots of recipes throughout the book to give you examples of how to use many of the spices found within its pages.
Ian loved the spice shop we were in. We were only there for about half an hour, but I could easily have spent the whole day with him, moving our way down the racks and bins of spices, as he had something fascinating to say about practically everything. Here is our conversation, presented as an mp3 file for your listening pleasure.