[Sca-cooks] Are you an herb or a spice?

lilinah at earthlink.net lilinah at earthlink.net
Fri Nov 20 12:57:25 PST 2009

I'm a wikipedia editor. One of my "pet" projects (i did not start it, 
nor am i the only one working on it) is the "List of culinary herbs 
and spices":

Removing purely medicinal herbs and spices has been easy - although 
keeping them off the culinary list requires some vigilance.

I have also removed a number of dried fruits - amchur (dried mango 
powder), tamarind - although some people want them added back - 
although if so, i say why not add raisins, prunes, dried apricots, 
dates, etc.?

There is now currently a debate in the discussion section - which i 
started - about whether sesame seeds and poppy seeds qualify as 

To view the discussion, click on the "Discussion" tab at the top of 
the article and scroll to the bottom, where the discussion to which 
i'm referring, "Nuts and Seeds That Aren't Spices... Or Are They?", 
is located.

I argue that they are closer in use to nuts, and in some recipes nuts 
(including that non-nut, the peanut) are sprinkled on top for flavor 
and texture but are neither main ingredients nor spices. There is an 
argument that since they are used in nutritionally small quantities 
and add flavor in many foodstuffs, they qualify as spices. Personally 
i think that is not sufficient - all sorts of ingredients are used in 
small quantities to add flavor, but doesn't necessarily make the 
spices or herbs. The person making that argument points to the 
Wikipedia entry for spices
which i think is generally good, but perhaps a bit inadequate. 
Another says that Wikipedia needs to be internally consistent, which 
is reasonable, but...

So, what think you, O collected cooking wisdom?
Should sesame seeds and poppy seeds be listed as spices? or not?
(and not because Spice Islands brand sells them in bottles in the 
spice section of the stupormarket or Gernot Katzer includes them in 
his Spice Pages)

If they are "spices", then i will seriously consider adding pumpkin 
seeds, sunflower seeds, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and a number of 
items by definition not nuts: almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, 
coconuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts.
Why by definition not a nut? See:

If you agree with me that poppy and sesame seeds are generally not 
spices, i will need some sort supporting references, if i am to take 
the step to alter the "Spice" entry without seeming self-serving.
Someone sometimes called Urtatim

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