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The Spice of Life

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Sarah Marlowe
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Creative Commons

The word spice has a kind of urgency. You don't need spice but historically, it's something people wanted enough to travel long, unfamiliar routes to find and bring back. We're going to talk about the lust for spice that helped open up trade and colonization. It's not just the taste or the smell - it was status and a class marker. One was either the sort of family that had turmeric or one was not.

Today on the show, we talk about the history of spice and about its present. It hasn't stopped, in certain quarters, being a luxury item and a status marker.

But overall, as a culture that depends heavily on the visual, we've lost our sensitivity to scents and taste, ignoring the transformative memories evoked by each. We flavor our food with salt and pepper, or the shake of a years old container of flavorless spice bought at our local supermarket, never unleashing the power of a spice. 

We talk to a high-end spice blender and lastly, we explore our own curious relationship with one of the most complex, hallucinatory and potentially dangerous spices - nutmeg.

What do you think? Comment below, email Colin@wnpr.org, or tweet @wnprcolin.

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Colin McEnroe is a radio host, newspaper columnist, magazine writer, author, playwright, lecturer, moderator, college instructor and occasional singer.

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