The early use of herbs and spices is rooted in tradition and many wars and battles have been fought to secure a good supply. Spice trading in the Mediterranean region dates back to over 5000 years and early trading routes from the East were established more than 2000 years ago. Originally herbs & spices were used to disguise the taste of food that had gone rancid. Their later use in Mediterranean cooking owed as much to their preservative properties as to their appetising fragrances. Basil, fennel, wild thyme, red chilli peppers, bay leaves, garlic & parsley, the most common, are all traditionally blended to flavour Maltese culinary dishes.