The opening lecture of the London symposium on spices of the Phytochemical Society of Europe opened a real Pandora’s box by its review of problems and challenges. The contents of the box may be characterized by the titles of two books shown in the window of a London bookshop, one being Herbs and Spices, Guide to 60 of These and Explaining Their Identification, Cultivation and Uses, and the other The World's Last Mysteries.
Also belonging in Pandora's box are the problems and challenges connected with quality control and standards in the field of spices. The problems encountered here are everyday problems in the trade for the analyst, over which standardisation committees have sometimes stumbled. In addition, however, workers in this field face problems of definitions.
A look at the symposium program shows titles mentioning mustard, dill, and onions, as well as pepper, capsicum, and ginger. Moreover, one title asks: "Herbs and spices, what is it all about?," and another reads "Herbs and spices in medicinal preparations."