Lissuns were polled for seasonings whose taste and aroma brought to mind the best of holiday memories. Links to Wikipedia articles are provided for history, Linnaean classifications, and more information.
Allspice is a small scrubby tree, quite similar to the bay laurel in size and form. It can be grown outdoors in the tropics and subtropics with normal garden soil and watering. Smaller plants can be killed by frost, although larger plants are more tolerant. It adapts well to container culture and can be kept as a houseplant or in a greenhouse. The plant is dioecious, meaning plants are either male or female and hence male and female plants must be kept in proximity in order to allow fruits to develop.
While the almond is most often eaten on its own, raw or toasted, it is used in some dishes. It, along with other nuts, is often sprinkled over desserts, particularly sundaes and other ice cream based dishes. It is also used in making baklava and nougat. There is also almond butter, a spread similar to peanut butter. Sweet almonds are used in marzipan, nougat, French macaroons, and Financiers as well as other desserts.
Containing liquorice-like components, anise is sweet and very aromatic. It is used to make the following confectioneries: Aniseed balls (Britain), Aniseed wheels (New Zealand), pizzelles (Italy), pfeffernusse (Germany), and knotts (Norway). Aniseed is also used to make the Mexican drink "atole de anís" or champurrado which is similar to hot chocolate, the Turkish drink Raki (alcoholic beverage),the Greek Ouzo, the Italian Sambuca, the spirit absinthe, the favourite for Arabic Arak, some root beer such as Virgil's Root Beer in the United States and as a digestive after meals in India. It also is used to make the dough, when preparing the famous Peruvian dessert "Picarones." In Colombia, it is also used to add to the national drink aguardiente, in which, depending on the region, more or less anise gives the typical drink its distinctive flavor.
Bay leaves are a fixture in the cooking of many European cuisines (particularly those of the Mediterranean), as well as in North America. They are used in soups, stews, meat, seafood and vegetable dishes. The leaves also flavor classic French dishes such as bouillabaise and bouillon. The leaves are most often used whole (sometimes in a bouquet garni), and removed before serving. In Indian cuisine bay leaves are often used in biryani and many salads.
Bay leaves can also be crushed (or ground) before cooking. Crushed bay leaves impart more of their desired fragrance than whole leaves, and there is less chance of biting into a leaf directly.
The word was first recorded in Doncaster, in England, where Samuel Parkinson began making the candy in 1817. Parkinson's Butterscotch had royal approval and was one of Doncaster's attractions until it ceased production in 1977. The recipe was revived in 2003 when a Doncaster businessman and his wife discovered the recipe on an old folded piece of paper inside one of the famous St Leger tins that was in their cellar. The company Parkinson's Doncaster Butterscotch Ltd was formed and is now producing and trading butterscotch made to this original recipe. It sells the product all over the world.
Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic fragrance. Black cardamom has a distinctly more astringent aroma, though not bitter, with a coolness similar to mint, though with a different aroma. It is a common ingredient in Indian cooking, and is often used in baking in Nordic countries, such as in the Finnish sweet-bread pulla. It is one of the most expensive spices by weight, and little is needed to impart the flavor. Cardamom is best stored in pod form, because once the seeds are exposed or ground, they quickly lose their flavor. However, high-quality ground cardamom is often more readily (and cheaply) available, and is an acceptable substitute. For recipes requiring whole cardamom pods, a generally accepted equivalent is 10 pods equals 11⁄2 teaspoons of ground cardamom.
Romantic lore commonly identifies chocolate as an aphrodisiac. The reputed aphrodisiac qualities of chocolate are most often associated with the simple sensual pleasure of its consumption. Additionally, chocolate's sweet and fatty nature may stimulate the hypothalamus, inducing pleasureable sensations as well as affecting the levels of serotonin. While serotonin has a pleasurable effect, in high concentrations it can be converted to melatonin which in large amounts reduces sexual drive. Finally, chocolate has been shown to contain unsaturated N-acylethanolamines which might activate cannabinoid receptors or increase endocannabinoid levels resulting in heightened sensitivity and euphoria. Although there is no firm proof that chocolate is indeed an aphrodisiac, a gift of chocolate is a familiar courtship ritual.
Cloves were traded by Arabs during the Middle Ages in the profitable Indian Ocean trade. In the late fifteenth century, Portugal took over the Indian Ocean trade, including cloves, due to the Treaty of Tordesillas with Spain and a separate treaty with the sultan of Ternate. The Portuguese brought large quantities of cloves to Europe, mainly from the Maluku Islands. Clove was then one of the most valuable spices, a kg costing around 7 g of gold.
The trade later became dominated by the Dutch in the seventeenth century. With great difficulty the French succeeded in introducing the clove tree into Mauritius in the year 1770. Subsequently, their cultivation was introduced into Guiana, Brazil, most of the West Indies, and Zanzibar, where the majority of cloves are grown today.
< In Britain in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, cloves were worth at least their weight in gold, due to the high price of importing them.
Cinnamon has been known from remote antiquity, and it was so highly prized among ancient nations that it was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and other great potentates. Cinnamon is native to India. It was imported to Egypt from China as early as 2000 BC. It is mentioned in the Bible in Exodus 30:23, where Moses is commanded to use both sweet cinnamon and cassia; in Proverbs 7:17–18, where the lover's bed is perfumed with myrrh, aloe and cinnamon; and in Song of Solomon 4:14, a song describing the beauty of his beloved, cinnamon scents her garments like the smell of Lebanon. It is also alluded to by Herodotus and other classical writers. It was commonly used on funeral pyres in Rome, and the Emperor Nero is said to have burned a year's supply of cinnamon at the funeral for his wife Poppaea Sabina in 65 AD.
Garlic is widely used around the world for its pungent flavor, as a seasoning or condiment. It is a fundamental component in many or most dishes of various regions including Eastern Asia, South Asia, South-East Asia, the Middle-East, Northern Africa, Southern Europe, and parts of South and Central America. The flavour varies in intensity and aroma with cooking methods. It is often paired with onion, tomato, or ginger. The parchment-like skin is much like the skin of an onion, and is typically removed before using in raw or cooked form. An alternative is to cut the top off the bulb, coat cloves of garlic by dribbling olive oil (or other oil based seasoning) over them and roast them in the oven. The garlic softens and can be extracted from the cloves by squeezing the (root) end of the bulb or individually by squeezing one end of the clove.
Young ginger rhizomes are juicy and fleshy with a very mild taste. They are often pickled in vinegar or sherry as a snack or just cooked as an ingredient in many dishes. They can also be stewed in boiling water to make ginger tea, to which honey is often added as a sweetener; sliced orange or lemon fruit may also be added. Mature ginger roots are fibrous and nearly dry. The juice from old ginger roots is extremely potent and is often used as a spice in Indian recipes and Chinese cuisine to flavor dishes such as seafood or mutton and Vegetarian recipes. Powdered dry ginger root (ginger powder) is typically used to add spiciness to gingerbread and other recipes. Fresh ginger can be successfully substituted for ground ginger and should be done at a ratio of 6 parts fresh for 1 part ground.
Ginger is also made into candy and used as a flavoring for cookies, crackers and cake, and is the main flavor in ginger ale-- a sweet, carbonated, non-alcoholic beverage, as well as the similar, but somewhat spicier beverage ginger beer.
A variant dough is used to build gingerbread houses à la the "witch's house" encountered by Hansel and Gretel. These houses, covered with a variety of candies and icing, are popular Christmas decorations, typically built by children with the help of their parents.
Lemons, Lemon Juice, and Lemon Peel
Lemons entered Europe (near southern Italy) no later than the first century AD, during the time of Ancient Rome. However, they were not widely cultivated. The first real lemon cultivation in Europe began in Genoa in the middle of the fifteenth century. It was later introduced to the Americas in 1493 when Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds to Hispaniola along his voyages. Spanish conquest throughout the New World helped spread lemon seeds. It was mainly used as ornament and medicine. In 1700s and late 1800s, lemons were increasingly planted in Florida and California when lemons began to be used in cooking and flavoring.
In 1747, James Lind's experiments on seamen suffering from scurvy involved adding Vitamin C to their diets through lemon juice.
The berries are quite tart, so they are almost always cooked and sweetened before eating in the form of lingonberry jam, compote, juice, or syrup. The raw fruits are also frequently simply mashed with sugar, which preserves most of their nutrients and flavor and even enables storing them at room temperature (in closed but not necessarily sealed containers). Lingonberries served this way or as compote often accompany game meats and liver dishes. In Sweden and Norway, reindeer and deer steak is traditionally served with gravy and lingonberry sauce. Lingonberry preserve is commonly eaten with meatballs and potatoes in Sweden and Norway. In Sweden and Russia, when sugar was still a luxury item, lingonberries were usually preserved simply by putting them whole into bottles of water. This was known as vattlingon (watered lingonberries), and preserved them until next season.
Little Red Peppers
The chili pepper, chilli pepper, or chili, is the fruit of the plants from the genus Capsicum, which are members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Even though chilis may be thought of as a vegetable, their culinary usage is, generally, a spice, the part of the plant that is usually harvested is the fruit, and botany considers the plant a berry shrub.
The leaf, fresh or dried, is the culinary source of mint. Fresh mint is usually preferred over dried mint when storage of the mint is not a problem. The leaves have a pleasant warm, fresh, aromatic, sweet flavor with a cool aftertaste. Mint leaves are used in teas, beverages, jellies, syrups, candies, and ice creams. In Middle Eastern cuisine mint is used on lamb dishes. In British cuisine, mint sauce is popular with lamb.
The trade in nutmeg later became dominated by the Dutch in the 17th century. The British and Dutch engaged in prolonged struggles to gain control of Run island, then the only source of nutmeg. At the end of the Second Anglo-Dutch War the Dutch gained control of Run in exchange for the British controlling New Amsterdam (New York) in North America.
The Dutch managed to establish control over the Banda Islands after an extended military campaign that culminated in the massacre or expulsion of most of the islands' inhabitants in 1621. Thereafter, the Banda Islands were run as a series of plantation estates, with the Dutch mounting annual expeditions in local war-vessels to extirpate nutmeg trees planted elsewhere. As a result of the Dutch interregnum during the Napoleonic Wars, the English took temporary control of the Banda Islands from the Dutch and transplanted nutmeg trees to their own colonial holdings elsewhere, notably Zanzibar and Grenada. Today, a stylised split-open nutmeg fruit is found on the national flag of Grenada.
Oranges and Orange Peel
Oranges originated in Southeast Asia. The fruit of Citrus sinensis is called sweet orange to distinguish it from Citrus aurantium, the bitter orange. In a number of languages, it is known as a "Chinese apple" (e.g. Dutch Sinaasappel, "China's apple", or "Apfelsine" in German). The name is thought to ultimately derive from the Dravidian and Telugu word for the orange tree, with its final form developing after passing through numerous intermediate languages.The first appearance in English dates from the 14th century. The forms starting with n- are older; this initial n- may have been mistaken as part of the indefinite article, in languages with articles ending with an -n sound (e.g., in French une norenge may have been taken as une orenge). The name of the colour is derived from the fruit, first appearing in this sense in 1542.
The word "pepper" is derived from the Sanskrit pippali, the word for long pepper via the Latin piper which was used by the Romans to refer both to pepper and long pepper, as the Romans erroneously believed that both of these spices were derived from the same plant. The English word for pepper is derived from the Old English pipor. The Latin word is also the source of German pfeffer, French poivre, Dutch peper, and other similar forms. In the 16th century, pepper started referring to the unrelated New World chile peppers as well. "Pepper" was used in a figurative sense to mean "spirit" or "energy" at least as far back as the 1840s; in the early 20th century, this was shortened to pep.
Pine oil is an essential oil obtained by the steam distillation of needles, twigs and cones from a variety of species of pine, particularly Pinus sylvestris.
It is used in aromatherapy, as a scent in bath oils, as a cleaning product, and as a lubricant in small and expensive clockwork instruments. It is naturally deodorizing, and antibacterial. It may also be used varyingly as a disinfectant, massage oil and an antiseptic.
The fresh and dried leaves are used frequently in traditional Mediterranean cuisine as a herb; they have a bitter, astringent taste, which complements a wide variety of foods. A tisane can also be made from them. They are extensively used in cooking, and when burned give off a distinct mustard smell, as well as a smell similar to that of burning which can be used to flavor foods while barbecueing.
Rosemary is extremely high in iron, calcium, and Vitamin B6.
As a herb, sage is considered to have a slight peppery flavour. In Western cooking, it is used for flavouring fatty meats (especially as a marinade), cheeses (Sage Derby), and some drinks. In the United States, Britain and Flanders, sage is used with onion for poultry or pork stuffing and also in sauces. In French cuisine, sage is used for cooking white meat and in vegetable soups. Germans often use it in sausage dishes, and sage forms the dominant flavouring in the English Lincolnshire sausage. Sage is also common in Italian cooking. Sage is sautéd in olive oil and butter until crisp, then plain or stuffed pasta is added (burro e salvia). In the Balkans and the Middle East, it is used when roasting mutton.
Vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron due the extensive labor required to grow the seed pods used in its manufacture. Despite the expense, it is highly valued for its flavor which author Frederic Rosengarten, Jr. described in The Book of Spices as pure, spicy, and delicate and its complex floral aroma depicted as a peculiar bouquet. Regardless of its high cost, vanilla is widely used in both commercial and domestic baking, perfume manufacture and aroma therapy.