Book Review: Field Guide to Herbs and Spices

| April/May 2007

field guide

Field Guide to Herbs and Spices: How to Identify, Select, and Use Virtually Every Seasoning at the Market, by Aliza Green.
• Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2006.

Early in Field Guide to Herbs and Spices, author Aliza Green makes this disclaimer: “The author and publisher cannot guarantee this guide addresses every possible herb and spice available worldwide.” They may have come close, however. This book covers hundreds of culinary herbs, spices and spice mixtures, and most likely includes whatever you will find at your local markets as well as in markets you may encounter while traveling.

Designed to be a portable guide for identifying, selecting and cooking with herbs and spices, this compact book fits easily in pocket or purse to take to the market, then back home again to use in the kitchen.

The book includes a 114-page herb section and a 177-page spice section. Entries are alphabetized and each listing is identical, making it easy to find information about identifying, selecting, storing and cooking with the listed seasonings. For each entry you will find the same information, such as

• Any additional names for herbs and spices. For example, oregano is also called wild marjoram. Names in other languages are also provided. Bergamot is taimatubana in Japanese and bergamota in Spanish.

• A physical description of each herb and spice. For example, sorrel leaves resemble elongated spinach, and are pale to dark green. The photo section of the book also helps with identification.
• Seasonal availability is noted, and tips are provided on how to locate some of the more exotic items.

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