It’s hard to imagine the culinary world without spices. They give dishes their unique flavour, characteristic aroma and ultimately their style. The history of spices dates back to the very origins of humanity. People have been cultivating spices since the dawn of time and have learned to use them for a range of purposes. Alongside their culinary applications, people recognised their healing properties and employed them deliberately. The use of healing spices and herbs has become firmly established in traditional dishes; to this day, these flavour notes often characterise a country’s typical cuisine.
Variety and tradition: which spices are the favourites?
If you’re looking for the right seasoning, METRO is the place to go. Pepper, oregano, curry or cloves – the ranges from private labels and METRO Chef are as extensive as they are diverse. But a quick glance at history shows that spices weren’t always available. They tended to be very expensive and were reserved for the rich and the nobility. Even today, the availability of spices constantly fluctuates, for example because of weather conditions or geopolitical events. Regional differences in cultivation and trade have allowed preferences and typical national dishes to evolve. Although worldwide imports and exports are currently thriving, there are still marked differences in spice consumption, as shown in surveys like those carried out by market research company Euromonitor, or the consumption figures, for example, collected by Statista .
What is Germany’s top-selling salt?
There’s a secret winner among the seasonings: Bad Reichenhaller Alpensalz is the most-sold salt in Germany. Its origin is in the name, and it is mined from the very depths of the Alps. Because of its high quality and enrichment with important minerals like iodine, fluoride and folic acid, it is even used for medicinal purposes, for example, for joint and skin problems.
Cultural anchors: which spices are country-specific?
In particular, salt, pepper and paprika are used in German professional kitchens. But spices like caraway, nutmeg, cinnamon and curry are also popular with German chefs. Those looking to India for inspiration find turmeric, coriander, cumin and ginger essential for their cooking – and not only in curry dishes. On the other hand, cardamom, cinnamon and sumac give Arabic cuisine its unique flavours. Spices are also an essential part of dining culture in South-East Asian cuisine, which uses galangal, lemongrass, lime leaves and chillis to give dishes an exotic flavour, at least for European palates.
What influence do herbs and spices have on health?
Herbs and spices often contain essential oils that are believed to have antibacterial, antiviral or anti-inflammatory properties . This is why they are traditionally used for colds, digestive problems and pain relief. Cinnamon is said to reduce cramping, stimulate blood flow, and have a calming and uplifting effect, while turmeric calms the stomach and is said to help with indigestion. Just like chilli, the spiciness of ginger can stimulate the metabolism and blood flow and is believed to have an analgesic effect. This use of spices to alleviate health complaints is reflected in national cuisines to this day. Who knows? Perhaps curry was once used in India to make meals more digestible, and to prevent flatulence and bloating. But when we enjoy these foods nowadays, we don’t often think about why Indian dishes are typically flavoured with curry. It’s clear though that spices are often both an ingredient and a remedy – and this is what makes dishes interesting and beneficial. Incidentally, priced at 14 euros per gram, saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world. MPULSE explains why that is: a very special spice.
Quality ingredients for discerning customers
With its own brand METRO Chef, METRO offers various spices in packaging sizes to suit your needs. Practical for the kitchen and good for the environment – the new herb packaging from METRO Chef saves over 100 tonnes of plastic waste per year. The own brand is therefore an important lever for translating the METRO sustainability strategy directly into products. More: responsibility.metroag.de