Well, I did it! I wrote every day from early October to New Year's Day 2010. Now I will write for fun when I feel like it and see where that gets me. Cheers to all my small-blessing-appreciating friends!

Friday, January 29, 2010


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.

I began with my very favorite, cinnamon. We all have seen the little rolls of cinnamon bark, so we are quite certain they come from the bark of a tree. I looked it up and found that cinnamon trees are native to  Sri Lanka, that paradisaical isle with precious stones for beach pebbles.  Strange stories abounded in Western lands about the source of this valuable spice. For example, according to the Wiki, "in Herodotus and other authors, Arabia was the source of cinnamon: giant cinnamon birds collected the cinnamon sticks from an unknown land where the cinnamon trees grew and used them to construct their nests; the Arabs employed a trick to obtain the sticks." Indeed, cinnamon was distributed to Europe through the port of Alexandria in Egypt. The history of cinnamon is very interesting and worth reading about.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment