Cloves – The dried, unopened flower buds of Syzyium aromaticum, a small tropical evergreen tree native to the Moluccas in Indonesia, were known to ancient Romans thanks to an overland trade in spices dating back thousands of years. Eugenol is the essential oil that gives cloves their unique flavor which is appreciated in virtually all parts of the world. The taste can be overpowering if used indiscriminately, and excessive amounts will actually produce a mouth-numbing sensation. They are used in sweet and savory dishes in the Middle East, North Africa, India, China, and Southeast Asia. In Europe and North America they are often included in pickling mixtures, spiced breads, and ham dishes. In India they are one of the basic ingredients of garam masala, in China they are essential to the five-spice mixture, and in France they are one of the four spices in quatre epices (along with black pepper, nutmeg, and dried ginger). In Indonesia they are mixed with tobacco and made into the aromatic kretek cigarettes. Ground cloves lose their flavor quickly, so buy in small quantities or buy the whole cloves which will retain their flavor for at least a year if properly stored.