Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 11th 2015 Contents A39
"It's more than a purchase its a convenience..."
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The British did their best to get a
toe hold leading to the Dutch giving
the British the island of Manhattan
in exchange for Banda island, a tiny
dot on the world map, but the home
of Nutmeg. Banda Island is 180 sq
Km "as against Tobago which is
4,768 sq Km"; that is how small this
Banda island is and gives a clear pic-
ture of just how valuable Nutmeg
The indigenous people of the
Americas cultivated different spices.
With the European take over, vanilla,
allspice, chili peppers and other
spices were added to the list. The
British and French could now use
the West Indies to grow the seeds
and trees stolen from their Asian
sources. Not such a simple job
however. Vanilla has to be hand polli-
nated as the original habitat had a
specific bee to do the job...no bee, no
pod Grenada is known as the Isle of
Spice thanks to the Nutmeg, Cardo-
man, Cinnamon and Clove trans-
planted to there.
Spices have been famed for their
medicinal properties. The presence
of Eugenol provides the aromatic
properties and is found in clove oil,
nutmeg, cinnamon and bay leaf.
Eugenol is used in perfumeries,
flavourings, essential oils and in
medicine as a local antiseptic and
anaesthetic, particularly good for
Nutmeg, Ginger, Turmeric, Bay
leaf, Cinnamon and Aniseed are
grown here in Tobago.
Nutmeg is a fruit with a single nut
covered by mace, a bright red web.
Breaking the case of the nut reveals
the nutmeg. The fruit is used to
make jam and the nutmeg is grated
to flavour drinks like rum punch and
ponch de crème and used in the tra-
ditional Christmas Black cake.
Mace is dried, ground and used in a
Clove are the dried flower buds of
a tree and used to flavour ham plus
drinks like sorrel and mauby.
Cinnamon, also from the Middle
and Far East, is known as Spice in
the Caribbean. Used in Black Cake
and an important ingredient in
Cocoa tea, the traditional hot drink
Allspice, native to Jamaica, is a
dried berry used in that very Ja-
maican product, Jerk seasoning.
Ginger and Turmeric, from China,
are used with fish and meat. Gin-
ger Beer, a traditional non-alcoholic
drink is an essential Christmas drink.
Ginger tea using fresh ginger is
great for stomach woes! Turmeric,
known locally as Saffron, is also
used for its colour, but has proper-
ties to help fight arthritis.
Bay leaf, from the West Indies, is
a fragrant leaf used in stews. Bay
Rum, a cologne, not an alcoholic
drink is made from Bay leaf and the
berries of the tree.
Vanilla, from Mexico originally,
grown now in St Lucia. The hand
pollination makes it very expensive.
With its strong flavour it is used to
improve deserts particularly ice
Aniseed from the Mediterranean
and the Middle East is used as a
flavouring for the popular Caribbean
drink Mauby but has been used as a
cure of flatulence!
Hot 'Peppers', not actually a pep-
per, they are the fruit of the Cap-
sicum family widely known as
Chilies. Most Tobagonians consider
Hot Pepper sauce an essential part
of a meal!
Looking for spices to liven up your
pot? Miss Neptune, Miss Vee and
Miss Prince, who have stalls close
together in the centre of Scarbor-
ough market, sell a wide range of
spices - whole and ground - some of
which they have ground themselves.
In Tobago, you could easily say that spices are
the life of every pot that is placed on a fire.
Spices including ginger, clove, cinnamon, and
bay leaf, all play a huge part in making the is-
land's traditional food as 'sweet' as it is. All of
these spices though, originated from several
countries around the world -- a melting pot of
spice sources, as it were -- and travelled to To-
bago over time to add to its cultural flavour.
Spices have been highly desirable additives to
food for thousands of years and were among the
most demanded and expensive products available
in Europe from Roman times. Thanks to their aro-
matic, aphrodisiac, and curative properties they
were and still are used for their flavouring, colour-
ing and preservation of food, particularly meat, as
well as for their value in medicine. The Maluku is-
lands of Indonesia, called the Spice Islands, were
the source of many of these valuable crops. So
valuable, that in the 17th century, the so called
Spice War broke out between Portugal and Hol-
land over who should have control of the islands
and the wealth they generated.
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