Nutmeg Spice Has A Secret Story That Isn’t So Nice : The Salt : NPR

Standard

This copper engraving from approximately 1700 depicts the condition of the English prisoners at the hands of the Dutch. In the 1660s, Cornell University's Eric Tagliacozzo says, the conflict and competition for the spice trade came to a head.

i
i

This copper engraving from approximately 1700 depicts the
condition of the English prisoners at the hands of the Dutch. In the
1660s, Cornell University’s Eric Tagliacozzo says, the conflict and
competition for the spice trade came to a head. “The Dutch decapitated a
number of English merchants who were also in the Spice Islands trying
to profit from the trade.”



WikiCommons


hide caption

itoggle caption


WikiCommons

Ah, nutmeg! Whether it’s sprinkled on eggnog, baked into spice
cake or blended into a latte, this pungent spice can evoke memories of
holidays past.

Aired on Morning Edition Nov. 26, 2012.

But a lot of blood has been shed over this little brown seed.
“Nutmeg has been one of the saddest stories of history,” says culinary
historian Michael Krondl.
If you listen to my story, you’ll hear the gruesome, grisly tale of how
the Dutch tortured and massacred the people of the nutmeg-producing
Banda Islands in Indonesia in an attempt to monopolize the nutmeg trade.

So,
why was nutmeg so valuable? Well, Krondl likens it to the iPhone of the
1600s. It was fashionable among the wealthy. It was exotic and potent
enough to induce hallucinations — or at least a nutmeg bender, as
detailed in this account from The Atlantic.

Nutmeg was considered medicinal, according this 16th-century description:
Nutmeg was considered medicinal, according this 16th-century
description: “Nutmegs be good for them the which have cold in their
head, and doth comfort the sight and brain, & the mouth of the
stomach & is good for the spleen.”

Karen Castillo Farfán/NPR


hide caption

itoggle caption

Karen Castillo Farfán/NPR

“Nutmeg really does have chemical constituents that make you feel good,” explains culinary historian Kathleen Wall of the Plimoth Plantation.
And traditionally, we turn to nutmeg (along with cloves and cinnamon)
this time of year because these spices — as the settlers to the colonies
believed — can help warm us up and even help us fight off head colds
and stomachaches.

And for foodies, nutmeg is an ideal spice for
layering flavor. We visited Chef Kyle Bailey of Birch and Barley
restaurant in Washington, D.C., who combined spinach and nutmeg to whip
up a divine puree that marries the flavors beautifully:

  • Start by melting 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet. Add 2 tablespoons of shallots and saute. Add 4 cups of spinach. Cook on high heat until wilted.
    Maggie Starbard/NPR
  • Grate a heavy pinch of nutmeg. Sprinkle it over the spinach as it cooks until wilted.
    Karen Castillo Farfán/NPR
  • Put the spinach into a blender.
    Maggie Starbard/NPR
  • Puree until the mixture is the consistency of paint.
    Karen Castillo Farfán/NPR
  • Just before you plate the puree, add a splash of lemon. Serve under fish like salmon or sturgeon and enjoy.
    Karen Castillo Farfán/NPR

I must also mention a bit of nutmeg history that makes good
dinner-party conversation: the question of whether the Dutch traded
Manhattan (yes, New York) for nutmeg.

In the 1600s, “the Dutch and the British were kind of shadowing each other all over the globe,” explains Cornell historian Eric Tagliacozzo.
They were competing for territory and control of the spice trade. In
1667, after years of battling, they sat down to hash out a treaty.

“Both
had something that the other wanted,” explains Krondl. The British
wanted to hold onto Manhattan, which they’d managed to gain control of a
few years earlier. And the Dutch wanted the last nutmeg-producing
island that the British controlled, as well as territory in South
America that produced sugar.

“So they [the Dutch] traded Manhattan, which wasn’t so important in those days, to get nutmeg and sugar.”

 : NPR

via Blogger http://xarworld.blogspot.com/2014/12/nutmeg-spice-has-secret-story-that-isnt.html

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s