In the dictionary, an « aromatic » is a fragrant plant material, used in medicine, cooking and in perfumery. The scent of these plants comes from aromatic compounds, esters, which often contain, indeed, of the active antiseptic, digestive, stimulant or simply enjoyable. We must therefore translate this definition that herbs are plants containing essential oils to strong odors and varied. Therefore, the spices are all aromatics and herbs, like thyme and bay leaf, also belong to this category. « Aromatic » is a generic term for both herbs and spices. In the kitchen, it is customary to use them as is, but in medicine and perfumery, it is preferable to extract the active ingredients and aromatic as essences.
While it has been established that the notion of spice is encompassed in the broader herb, culinary jargon continues to distinguish the two terms. The explanation is subjective in nature. Commonly known herbs known plants in our climate, those spices come from exotic regions. In addition, the word « spice » implies feelings of heat and spice.
Called “Condiments” any aromatic substance used to enhance the taste of natural foods and prepared meals, stimulate appetite, promote digestion. The condiment is always served at the table, apart from food and its determination is left to the discretion of the guests. There are condiments salt, acids, like vinegar and sour type candy pickle, condiments such as cocoa bitter or pungent and aromatic as pepper, paprika and ginger, but also sweet condiments including sugar, no forget the sweet and sour preparations like the very Anglo-Saxon chutney (made of fruit and vegetables cooked in vinegar with sugar and spices, to a consistency of jam) and ketchup. The most common condiment is salt.
The condimentage is a practice as old as cooking itself. Originally, the condiments were used mainly for food preservation. In this respect, the oil belongs. But also the ancient “Garum” Roman (viscera and fish pieces marinated in brine with herbs), saltpeter (always used in meat) and verjuice (juice of green grapes, lemon juice or sorrel, herbs and spices) from the Middle Ages. The term “condiment”, it is reserved for aromatics, with the exception of sugar added to food being prepared.
The smell and taste prevail in the choice of food for all living beings, only our species has invented the means to transform or improve the taste and smell of its natural food. In this regard, spices play a vital role in our culinary culture.
In humans, it is agreed to distinguish four basic tastes: sweet, salty, bitter and sour. These sensations are superimposed never mingle, and their combination offers a virtually unlimited palette of shades. The word « flavor » comes from the Greek aroma and it appears in France in the eighteenth century. The habit has spent this term to odorous substances emitted by products unmanageable, « perfume » is reserved for those for external use.
The aroma, then, is the retronasal olfactory perception by at the time of ingestion of food. The study of volatile compounds, molecules key to the aroma, is that sophisticated technologies.
Throughout their history, people have developed tastes and aromas that are characteristic, but these inclinations are always subject to change and sometimes even reversed. Thus, the Europe of the Middle Ages sought it often bittersweet, but now, however, it is the fruit flavors that are acclaimed. The use of one or more spices are sometimes linked to culture, religion, philosophy, and it is with turmeric, attached to the Hindu ritual in the southeast Indian Ocean and in a few centuries invaded the whole of Asia.