Sweetness and spice bring out the best in one another – Eleanor Ford has beguiling blends in this extract from A Whisper of Cardamom.

Spice and sweetness have been bound together with lust and ardour since the first syllables of recorded history. In sweet cookery, spice can provide a delicate fragrance, hard to put your finger on but one that gives backbone to a dish. Flavours can be enhanced by a thoughtful addition from the spice cupboard, making chocolate more chocolaty and fruit taste more of itself. Added not in shouts but in whispers, an intrigue of spice deepens allure. An endless parade of heavenly spiced cakes and sweetmeats mark life’s rituals. They join decorations and music as the joyful markers of commemoration and festivity. Sweet foods fall outside the realm of everyday staple; they should be an occasional pleasure to savour. People don’t need sugar or spice for nutrition, but neither do they need poetry, love songs, art, cathedrals or mausoleums. They all fulfil a higher purpose of pleasure, emotion, celebration, togetherness; of being human.