I was wondering about our baking spices. We have all heard of the romantic Spice Islands, which could be smelled miles out to sea. But what countries are they? What do the trees look like, that produce these spices? How do they grow? In ancient times, spice traders kept secret the sources of their precious wares, but I have only to consult Wikipedia.
Cinnamon is cultivated in many countries around the Indian Ocean, including India and Indonesia, as well as Brazil and the West Indies. It is an evergreen plant in the laurel family (which, incidentally, includes avocados - who would have guessed?) The trees are coppiced to produce many young shoots. Their outer bark is stripped away and the inner bark collected and dried. This is our cinnamon, without which there would be no cinnamon toast!
Soon I will write about nutmeg and clove.