What would we do without spice in our life? I imagine it would be bland. It would be like havng friends who are always in agreement with you, liking what you like or doing the same mundane things - over and over again. It would be like wanting to change something in your life but not willing to take the risk or wanting to know some one better but fearing rejection, so instead you succumb to the blandness of day to day life without the slightest curiosity to taste some thing different because it's safe, it's what you are used to. Love, attraction, rejection, disappointment, sadness, joy, excitement, these are all but a feelings we have that spice up our life and make the dish; You - so much more interesting.
Now let's talk about real spices. When ever possible I always cook with fresh herbs and spices. It adds perhaps an additional ten minutes to the cooking process but the result is tenfold in terms of flavor, particularly in Asian cooking. The benefits are also overwhelming; Galangal Root and Ginger Root have both warming effects and are good for the digestion, Lemon grass has a tangy flavor and has anti bacterial and anti fungal properties, Red and Green Chilli peppers are a rich source of Vitamin C and other antioxidants like vitamin A and B Carotene. Tamarind is high in vitamin B and calcium and interstingly enough it is used in Worcestershire & HP sauce.
When I was a young teenager, my mother would make me drink "Asem Kunyit", which is a herbal drink made from tamarind and tumeric root with a little coconut palm sugar. She said, this is to keep you slim - a young woman should be slender. Mind you, I was very thin and I think it was her means of keeping me that way until I was betrothed to some one. It's a traditional thing, what can I say. Another herbal drink she introduced to me was "Beras Kencur" which is made from rice flower, zedorary (white tumeric), a bit of tamarind and coconut palm sugar. This was to build my appetite and help with indigestion/heartburn. So in essence, my mother wanted me to have an appetite and be slender at the same time. Hmmm...I'm still trying to figure that one out. To this day, I still drink these two herbal drinks regardless of their properties but more out of sentimental reasons and besides, they are very delicious especially if kept chilled in the refridgerator.
So whenever possible, always try to incorporate fresh herbs, spices and roots into your dishes. It's always good to know what you are eating. If your life is not "spicy" enough then at least your food is.