Origin: Tropical southeast Asia, China, India, Malaysia
Viewed as a beneficial, even magical, spice since the 1st century CE, ginger has always been highly prized and sought-after. Reserved to kings, it was once called "the royal spice." In fact, Louis XIV so favored it that his favorite beverage, "hypocras," honey-sweetened wine flavored with ginger, was offered only to his most eminent guests.
Originating in Asia, southern Indian and China, ginger is a hardy tropical plant grown for its gnarled, bumpy rhizomes, which are off-white, cream or buff in color. It has been used for some 4400 years as a condiment, culinary and medicinal plant. It is undoubtedly one of the oldest spices, its name derived from the Sanskrit sringavero and the Latin zingiber, meaning shaped like a stag horn. .
Brought back by the Romans, ginger spread rapidly throughout Europe and the rest of the world. During the Renaissance, every town had its "Ginger Street" where the spice merchant kept shop. Until recently, it was usual in New England high society to pass around a bowl of ginger after dinner from which everyone took a spoonful to counteract overindulgence and flatulence.
Did you know that a ginger rhizome is called a hand? When you break a piece of ginger root, its aroma is reminiscent of citronella, while the flavor is hot and spicy while still giving an impression of freshness.
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