Where Stuff Comes From

by Lisa Rosen on January 14, 2011

Our friend Ketan just came back from a visit to India.  He brought me some treats–several varieties of tea, which I’m enjoying pretty much all day, every day in this nasty cold weather, and some interesting spices.

My favorites are the two above.  Any guesses on what they are?

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*insert sound of crickets chirping*

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Fine; I’ll tell you.  The tree bark (and I mean that literally) is cinnamon.  Did you know cinnamon is ground-up tree bark?  There you go–random new fact for today.

The other one (the one that looks like some kind of interesting coral formation) is mace.  For those of you who don’t bake much, mace, like cinnamon, is a spice that’s often used in baking in the West, but has broader application in the rest of the world.  It’s kind of like nutmeg, but a little different.  Interestingly, that filament you see in the photo, each little piece of which is called a “blade” of mace, is actually the outer covering of a nutmeg.  I’ve never seen them in situ, but now that I’ve gotten my hands on the un-ground version, I’d really like to.

It’s interesting to think about how bits of a tree on the other side of the world wound up in those little plastic bottles in my grocery store.

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