Spice, also known as deg in Dwarvish, was a broad term for a variety of seeds, roots, and bark that were primarily used for seasoning or flavoring food. They were often dried, ground up into a powder, and mixed together with a variety of other spices. Over time the advancement of long distance trade caused spices that were once exclusive to a single region to be spread far and wide across Toril.
Travelers on Toril typically kept spices in little glass vials, encased in whittled wooden 'shielding shells' to guard against breakage. These were carried inside of drawstring leather pouches, known as spice pouches. Such pouches had the "finished" side as their interior, thus minimizing reactions with the vials' contents.
Spices used throughout Toril included the following:
- Ateris, a spice that was endemic to the Thunder Peaks and Storm Horns.
- Awana, a spice that was endemic to the island of the same name.
- Bentilan, a spice that was endemic to the the Thunder Peaks and Storm Horns.
- Fagara, a spice that was endemic to the country of T'u Lung.
- Fire lichen, a spice that was endemic to the Underdark.
- Funguswood : A common mushroom used as a wood substitute and sometimes as a savory spice.
- Mingari, a spice that was endemic to Ulgarth.
- Panjar, a spice that was endemic to Tymanther.
- Priadoran fire spice, a spice that was endemic to the region of Priador.
- Tanbark, a spice that was endemic to Anauroch.
- Vanilla, a spice that was endemic to Maztica.
In 1238 DR, a major trade war began between the Amnian merchant families House Ulvax and House Ophal. This was due to the latter causing House Ulvax's spice trade with Zakhara to dwindle. The feud between them would persist for over a hundred years, igniting numerous other trade wars. Eventually, it would culminate in the Murann Spice War in 1338 DR. The Council of Six would go on to punish House Ulvax for instigating the conflict by revoking their right to engage in the Zakharan spice trade.
Around 1367 DR, a trio of traveling merchants that hailed from Anauroch were trading a variety of spices in Shadowdale in return for silver. Some of their spices included curry, pepper, and rock salt.
For many decades the four rival trading families of Marsember shipped spices to and from lands all across the Inner Sea. Over time they became the city's main export and earned it the moniker "City of Spices." In the years leading up to 1370 DR the city's dominance in the spice trade waned as other kingdoms started getting involved in exporting condiments to the Sword Coast, such as Westgate and Nimpeth.
Around 1370 DR, Mithral Hall's alliances with surface kingdoms allowed for the importation of many spices that were once unknown to denizens of the Underdark. Also during this time, spices were one of the few industries of trade that the nation of Thay had with the lands west of it.
Around 1372 DR, rare spices were known to travel across the Black Road. Around this time an investment of 100 gp worth of western goods could fetch over 500 gp worth of silk and spices from Kara-Tur.
In the late 15th century, merchants from further south were known to trade spices in the city of Bryn Shander. Around this same time, merchants were known to travel to Port Nyanzaru from as far away as the Sword Coast in order to purchase the unique spices of Chult.
Prices varied between each type of spice, with one of many factors being whether they were local or exotic. However, in the bazaars of Zakhara the native spices could generally be bought for around 7 silver pieces to 2 gold pieces per pound.
In the 14th century DR, markets in Waterdeep sold most spices for around 5 copper pieces to 8 gold pieces per dry 1 oz (28 g), though saffron in particular sold for 40 gold pieces per dry 1 oz (28 g).
Notable Users of Spices
- Throughout Faerûn meat was typically coated in a mixture of powdered spices, such as sage and rosemary, before being spit-roasted. Calishites were particularly known for heavily spicing their meat.
- A small number of people carried their own blend of spices when traveling.[note 1]
- Spices were among the raw material trade goods that the Rundeen dealt in.
- The Shad'iar, the nomadic tribes of the Land of the Lions, often used spices on their simple foods. Whenever a clan, family, or tribe of Shad'iar hosted members of another tribe they would slaughter and cook animals over a great roaring fire. To enhance the flavor of that meat, they would either rubs spices into it or throw them over the bonfire. Spices were also commonly used by them as a barter good.
Races & Intelligent Creatures
- Elves considered cooking a delicate art form and their taste buds generally could not handle heavy use of spices. However, among elves the more adventurous youth were known to partake in over-spiced food.
- Cloud giants were known to prefer their food carefully prepared with a variety of spices. Furthermore, those who worshiped the deity Stronmaus would ritually start each morning by scattering handfuls of spice and incense into the wind.
- The ghul-kin of Zakhara were known to have a fondness for highly spiced meat and stews.
- Gnomish cuisine was rarely known to employ spices.
- Halflings did not favor a lot of spices in their food, with the exception of onions. They generally preferred a mixture of herbs over strong spices when it came to seasoning their traditional sausages, cheeses, stews, and baked goods.
- Rakshasa were typically known to season their food with all manner of exotic spices.
Regions & Settlements
- The Calimshan city of Suldolphor sported an entrance known as the Spice Gate. Also within that city, the Shaldizar Inn would throw spices on to fires in order to scent the interior air.
- In the nation of Tethyr, spices were one of many goods that people commonly bartered with.
- Most travelers in the Western Heartlands carried varied arrays of the spices that they considered "base staples." These included cinnamon, dill seeds, ground black pepper, ground garlic, nutmeg, or thyme.
- In the lands further south and east of the Western Heartlands the spices considered "base staples" to travelers were ground almonds, ground ginger, dried tamarind, raisins, rosemary, and turmeric.
- Among the many valuable items that made up the treasure hoards of some dragons and rocs, spices could be found.
- Sailors of phlogiston rarely had good access to spices.
- The dwarven deity Vergadain often demonstrated his favor with individuals through unexpected discoveries, most notably of rare spices.
- In Zakhara, burning expensive spices could summon a Sakina.
- A modern example given of spice blends was garam masala.
- Herbs, another broad term for a variety of plant-life that is often used to season food.
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