BOTANICAL NAME: Myristic a fragrans
FAMILY NAME: Myristicaceae
Nutmeg and mace are different parts of the same, fruit of the nutmeg tree. These spices have been appreciated since Roman times - the Emperor Henry VI had the streets of Rome fumigated with nutmegs before his coronation. The, Portuguese were able to keep the source of nutmeg and mace a close secret for a century, from early in the 16th century until they were driven out of the Spice Islands by the Dutch, who subsequently also jealously guarded the source of their spice treasures. By 1760 there were warehouses in Amsterdam full of these spices, but they were burned in order to keep the price of the spice artificially high. The price of mace in London at that time was 85-90 shillings per pound.
So determined were the. Dutch to retain their monopoly, that they tried to restrict the growing of nutmeg trees to two islands; however, they had not considered the fruit pigeons that were responsible for the seedlings sprouting on nearby islands.
Pierre Poivre (a Frenchman who, it is believed, the Peter Piper in the ton twister nursery rhyme beginning with Lhai name) was responsible for importing [he precious seedlings lo Mauritius, where they flourished.
This marked the end of the Dutch monopoly and the decline of their influence in the Spice Islands. The British East India Company introduced the nutmeg tree to Penang, Singapore, India, Sri Lanka and the West Indies, especially to Grenada. Along with Indonesia, Grenada is the main source of nutmeg and mace.
Mace is sold either as whole blades or as the ground spice and it can be used in both forms. Mace is used in savoury dishes, and nutmeg, though used in savoury dishes, is especially complementary to puddings, cakes and drinks. In Malaysia the fleshy outer husk of the nutmeg is crystallized or pickled, then halved or sliced and sold in packs as a delicious snack. Both spices have well-esi ablished roles in classic cuisines. Mace is used to flavour milk-based sauces, such as bechamel, and it is widely used in processed meals, such as sausages and charcuterie. It is also superb when added sparingly to delicate soups and sauces with fish, seafood, particularly potted shrimps, and eggs. Pickles and cbutneys may be seasoned with mace. Try adding a little to milk-based puddings, cheesecakes and lemon curd tart.
Mace and nutmeg smell gloriously aromatic, sweet and warm. Both spices have a similar flavour, with the nutmeg being slightly sweeter than the mace.
Nutmeg and Mace
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