The Spice Trail BBC2 Thursday 9pm- 6 episodes
Anyone who follows this blog will know I generally don't plug TV programs, although I do get lots of press releases offering them to me.†† The Spice Trail is a simple yet clear title that is succinct, and the program delivers.
Whether your a chef, a home cook, a food historian or nature lover The Spice Trail is worth watching,
If you missed the first episode aired on BBC2 Thursday 17th February, don't miss another!
Producers take note
Unlike too many food programs these days that make me cringe mentioning no names, the makers of this series were sensible and experienced enough to let the food shine.
Food is such an emotive and universal subject surrounded with history and intrigue, why can't producers/directors understand food needs no razzmatazz?... just a thoughtful context and interesting backdrop.
A Lesson in presentation
With the lightest of touches Kate Humble retraces the steps of 15th century explorers as she sets out on a spice trail that takes her to India and Sri Lanka, the birthplaces of pepper and cinnamon.
Kate begins her travels on India's "Spice Coast" uncovering the story of pepper, once known as black gold and nowadays the most consumed spice in the world. She does the pepper dance to shake the berries form their stalk, meets farmers fighting back against a disease that is devastating pepper crops and is taught the centuries old secret language still used by the traders who wheel and deal in the spice.
The land of Cinnamon
From India, Kate heads south to Sri Lanka to the land of cinnamon, a place shrouded in mystery to Europeans until the Portuguese accidentally landed on its shores.†† She attends the spectacular Buddhist festival of Parahara which celebrates local resistance to the invaders, takes part in the delicate and skilled process of harvesting the spice and making a cinnamon quill and witnesses the crucial make or break negotiations of local farmers trying to sell the crops they rely on to make their living.
Just like her surname Kate seems perfectly at ease and seems genuinely enchanted as she shares her journey of discovery with the viewer, if all other episodes are as good as this..... then one hopes it gets the recognition it deserves.
Next up Nutmeg and Clove, I urge you don't miss it.
Special thanks to the BBC for allowing me to reproduce their photographs.† All images in this article are the property of BBC/Lion television.† Any reproduction of these images must have written permission from the BBC.