Compiled from various sources
Compiled from various sources micchino. Belledi is an Arabic word meaning "country" and was probably the common ginger. Colombino referred probably to Columbum, Kollom, or Quilon, an ancient port on the southern Malabar Coast, and micchino denoted the ginger brought from Mecca (which again goes from the Malabar Coast only) (Watt, 1872, Mahindru, 1982). The literature also indicates that ginger preserved in syrup (called green ginger) was also imported to the Western World during the Middle Ages and was regarded as a delicacy of the choicest kind. In Zanzibar on the east coast of Africa, ginger is regarded as auspicious, which is absolutely necessary to the Savaras tribe for their religious and marriage functions.
Ginger is mentioned in the Koran (76: 15—17): "Round amongst them (the righteous in paradise) is passed vessels of silver and goblets made of glass ...a cup, the admixture of which is ginger." In the Middle Ages ginger was considered to be so important a spice that the street in Basle where Swiss traders sold spices was named Imbergasse, meaning "Ginger Alley" (Rosengarten, 1969). In Henry VIII's time, ginger was recommended against plague. It was during that time that "gingerbread" became popular, and it became a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I and her court. The legend is that around 2400 B.C. a baker on the Isle of Rhodes near Greece prepared the first gingerbread. Shortly thereafter the recipe found its way to Egypt, where the Egyptians savored its excellent flavor and served it on ceremonial occasions. The Romans distributed ginger bread to all parts of the empire (Farrell, 1985).
During the Middle Ages and until the end of the nineteenth century English tavern keepers used to have ground ginger in constant supply for thirsty customers to sprinkle on top of their beer or ale and then stir into the drink with a red-hot poker (Rosengarten, 1969). The Western herbalists and naturalists knew the great qualities of ginger as confirmed by the well-known British herbalist John Gerad. He writes in his herbal (1577) that "ginger is right good with meat in sauces," and says that this spice is "of an eating and digesting quality, and is profitable for the stomach, and effectively opposeth itself against all darkness of the sight, answering the qualities of pepper" (Parry, 1969).
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