Spice, a general denomination of aromatic drugs, possessing hot and pungent properties. Such are All-spice, Nutmeg, Pepper, the seeds of the CaRaw ay and CaRda mom, Ginger, Mace, Salt, etc. of which we have given an account, in the progress of this work. Hence, it will be useful here, to subjoin a few remarks on the general properties of spice, and conclude with enumerating several substitutes for the imported drugs, that deserve to be more generally cultivated.
The chief culinary use of spices, is that of serving as an ingredient in sauces, or for seasoning different articles of food, either with a view to render them more palatable, or to obviate some hurtful effects, such as flatulency, acidity, etc. Nevertheless, condiments are mostly of a hot and stimulant nature, tending to irritate the nerves, and ultimately to relax the stomach : hence they ought to be employed with moderation, and only with provisions that cannot be easily digested without them ; for the daily use of pungent drugs a the table, necessarily excites thirst; and many persons thus contract the ruinous habit of committing excess in fermented, vinous, or spirituous liquors.
Among the various plants, which merit the attention of gardeners, with a view to serve as substitutes for Indian spice, we shall mention the following:
I. Monarda or Indian Hore-hound (Monarda Zeylonica, L.), a native of Ceylon, but which thrives in the open air of our climate. There are two species of this plant - the fistulosa, and didy-ma: the leaves and blossoms of both possess a very delicate fragrance ; so that they may be used making tea, and for imparting a fine flavour to made wines, or brandy. But the most useful part of this vegetable, is its aromatic seeds, which M. Zizman, a German clergyman, has lately cultivated to a great extent, and found them equally serviceable in domestic economy, as the most costly spices obtained from the Indies.
II. Basil (Ocymum), a native of warm climates, consisting of eight species : these are propagated by seeds, and will also thrive in the open air of this country : if placed in a green-house, even their seeds attain to maturity. The following three species are the principal : 1. The common Basil (O. vulgare); 2. The Citron-flavoured Basil (O. citri odore) ; and, 3. The Pink-scented Basil (O. caryophyllatum maximum ). The leaves of' all these plants should be employed in a dried state ; as they are too penetrating while fresh : those of the last kind, in particular, may serve as excellent substitutes for nutmeg and mace, in tarts, pies, mulled wine, and other preparations.
IV. Savory: See p. 24, of this volume.
V. Marjoram : See vol. iii. P- 167
VI. Cicely : See vol. i. p.527
VIII. Tarragon ; which see.
IX. Spignel : See next page.
Beside these, we shall remind the reader of a few other spicy plants commonly met with, in British gardens; for instance, fennel, coriander, mustard, caraway, rue, mint, penny-royal, balm, mugwort, etc. - When compared with some of the foreign drugs, they excel many of the latter, both in flavour and virtues, so as to render their importation superfluous: nay, the untutored Indians may justly smile at the-folly of Europeans who, instead of encouraging the culture of native plants, or such as readily grow in their climates, send the money earned by the industry and hard labour of their husbandmen, over the tempestuous ocean - frequently at the loss of many valuable lives.
Spices are subject to various duties, which are stated in their respective places. Hence it remains only to be added, that all spicery is prohibited, by the 13 and 14 Car. II. c. 2, to be imported from Germany and the Netherlands, except cinnamon, cloves, mace, and nutmegs. These articles are permitted by the 6 Geo. I. c. 21, the 8 Geo. I. c. 18, and several subsequent acts, to be imported from any country, in British vessels legally navigated.
Spice. - Beside the utility of the Monarda, or Oswego-tea, as a substitute for spice, its leaves may be advantageously used instead of those of the Tea-Tree : the flowers also, when infused in brandy, impart to it an agreeable flavour, re-sembling that of peaches.