Archive for October 2014

Will the real cinnamon please stand up!

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“I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. Come let us take our fill of love till morning.” (Proverbs 7, 17-18) When enjoying cinnamon, a staple in food stores large and small, you’re actually enjoying a spice with a history colored by elegance, spirituality and brutality. The cinnamon goes back to Egypt around 2000 BCE and comes from the bark of a laurel tree. It has gone by the Malay name “kayumanis,” meaning “sweet wood,” the Italian, canella, or “little cannon tubes” for the rolled cinnamon sticks, and the Hebrew “qinnämön” – probably the origin of the English…

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Chocolate Talk Bits and Nips

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I attended a talk on the history of chocolate at the historic Dumbarton House in D.C. The speaker, Joyce White, managed to cover a broad swath of history in 90 minutes with plenty of interesting facts. Here are a handful with a few of my own thrown in. We all know that the ancients Aztecs revered the cacao bean: they even considered it money…so drinking chocolate was much like drinking gold. But the crème de la crème of the chocolate drink was the froth. The frothier the better. Chocolate was considered hot and moist in a purely sensual way. In…

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A Quick Look at the Early Days of the Honey Bee

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The honey bee, the quintessential American insect, is actually an immigrant, arriving in the U.S. with the British around 1621. The Native Americans had never seen the creature before and didn’t have a name for it. So, they dubbed it the “white man’s fly.” The bee migrated ahead of the settlers in swarms; when Native Americans saw the bee they knew the white man would follow. The honey bee likely ended its journey at the Rockies, and was later transported to California and other places. As for the plants the bee pollinates: most are imports, as well.

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