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The most exclusive was saffron, used as much for its vivid yellow-red color as for its flavor.

Spices that have now fallen into obscurity in European cuisine include grains of paradise, a relative of cardamom which mostly replaced pepper in late medieval north French cooking, long pepper, mace, spikenard, galangal and cubeb.

Early uses were connected with magic, medicine, religion, tradition, and preservation.

Indonesian merchants traveled around China, India, the Middle East, and the east coast of Africa.

the most common being black pepper, cinnamon (and the cheaper alternative cassia), cumin, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.