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G-of-Paradse-msg - 12/4/06

 

History and comments on the spice Grains of Paradise.

 

NOTE: See also the files: spices-msg, herbs-msg, merch-spices-msg, spice-mixes-msg, p-herbals-msg, saffron-art, garlic-msg.

 

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NOTICE -

 

This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.

 

This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org

 

I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.

 

The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given by the individual authors.

 

Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).

 

Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org

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From: jtn  at newsserver.uconn.edu (Terry Nutter)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Cubeb

Date: 19 Aug 1995 00:51:57 GMT

Organization: University of Connecticut

 

Greetings, all, from Angharad ver' Rhuawn.

 

Caroline Richenda writes:

: i have heard that grains of paradise is another name for

: cardamon(sp?),which is commercially available,

 

No.  I have both.  They're different.  You can get grains of paradise

from a number of SCA merchants, several of whom deal by mail order;

failing that, if you can get a lot of people together, you can special

order it yourself from just about any health food store that carries

bulk spice -- but you have to be ready to order a pound of it.

 

: and that galingale is

: available at Thai shops. I plan to check that out, since a company in

: London that was advertised as having galingale DOESN'T.

 

_Some_ Thai shops, and some other oriental markets, carry it, often

under the name "galinga" or "galingas".  You can also special order

it (if you're willing to buy a pound of it, which will last one person

forever, or keep a kingdom well supplied for a while).

 

Cheers,

-- Angharad/Terry

 

 

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: medieval spice names wanted

Date: Wed, 27 Nov 1996 07:11:07 GMT

Organization: Tele Denmark

 

Jean-Baptiste joule <jb-joule  at worldnet.fr> wrote:

 

>Some spices are hard to find,

>like "poivre long "long pepper"

>Graine de paradis "paradise seed"

 

According to Constance B. Hieatt and Sharon Butler who edited "Curye

on Inglysch" (which is a book containing five 14th century English

culinary manuscripts), greyns de paradis is cardamon and longe peper

is a good quality black pepper.

 

Hope this helps

Michael Bradford

 

 

From: DDFr  at Best.com (David Friedman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: medieval spice names wanted

Date: Wed, 27 Nov 1996 22:02:38 -0800

Organization: School of Law, Santa Clara University

 

mjbr  at tdk.dk (Michael Bradford) wrote:

> According to Constance B. Hieatt and Sharon Butler who edited "Curye

> on Inglysch" (which is a book containing five 14th century English

> culinary manuscripts), greyns de paradis is cardamon and longe peper

> is a good quality black pepper.

 

That is not correct. What they write (in _Curye on Englysche_) is:

 

greyns de parys: spice seed of the genus amomum melequetta, closely related

to cardamom and sometimes called cardamom (Fr. graine de paradis)

 

The fact that one plant is closely related to another does not mean that it

tastes the same, and in fact grains of paradise not only are not the same

thing as cardamom, they taste entirely different. Nor does the fact that

the same name is used for two things mean they are similar--consider

"artichoke" and "jerusalem artichoke," one a thistle and one a sunflower.

 

longe peper: variety of pepper considered superior to black pepper.

 

Or in other words, it is a different variety (piper longa, as I remember),

considered better than black pepper, not a good quality of black pepper.

 

Both are available from specialty spice shops such as Aphrodisia in NY.

 

David/Cariadoc

 

 

From: jfideli  at newshost.li.net (Fideli)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: medieval spice names wanted

Date: 6 Dec 1996 15:49:35 GMT

Organization: LI Net (Long Island Network)

 

Jean-Baptiste joule (jb-joule  at worldnet.fr) wrote

: Some spices are hard to find,

: like "poivre long "long pepper"

: Graine de paradis "paradise seed"

 

: I think I might be able to find them if only I had the name in chinise

: Jean-Baptiste de Foy

: Kingdom of Drachenwald

 

        Greetings:      I must say I am sorry to say that the other

gentlemen who posted information on this topic is sorely

misinformed...Graine de paradis,,, is now known as Grains of Paradise or

Melegueta pepper (Aframomum melegueta and is releated to cardamom

(Elettaria cardamomun ) and ginger (Zingiber officinale), they are all

members of the genus Zingiberaceae.

        Long pepper is just that...known as Indian long pepper, Jaborandi

pepper or Roman long pepper (Piper longum) I have been looking for a

source for it and as of yet have not recieved any. though I continue to

look..  You might want to try Cubebs....or tailed pepper...(Piper cubeba)

also known and used in period...they ahve a unique taste that is hard to

describe , but wonderful.

        In the East, we have the peppers guild, who has all of the period

spices you might need.  Though here in NYC we have a mutitude of spice

stores where they may be purchased...If you have trouble finding them or

have more questions....feel free to contact me.....at

<jfideli  at suffolk.lib.ny.us>   I have been working on a book of period

spices for approx 5 years...slow going....

 

                    Lord Xaviar the Eccentric

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Gules, on a chevron between in chevron a cleaver and a cleaver

reversed and in base a satyr Rampant Or, six cauldrons sable!

 

 

Date: Wed, 3 Jun 1998 08:16:07 -0700 (PDT)

From: Allyson Tripp <atripp  at sfu.ca>

Subject: SC - Re: grains of paradise

 

>From the OED, grain, definition 4a:

 

(in full frains of Paradise: in early use also sing.): The capsules

of Amomum Meleguetta of Western Africa (cf. Cardamom b), used as a spice

and in medicine; called also Guinea grains (see Guinea).

 

Numerous literary references, the first being Chaucer in 1366.

 

Cardamom b: Also occas. applied to the capsules of A. Meleguetta

of Western Africa, usually called Grains of Paradise.

 

Allyson

 

 

Date: Thu, 9 Jul 1998 09:28:20 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD  at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - A curious inquiry...

 

> An earlier note referred to "some grains of paradise" as a spice to add to

> a strawberry cordial

>

> Can someone tell me what this is?  This is the second reference to it I've

> seen this week, the first being as an additive to a new beer...for a

> Renaissance flavor.

>

> Thanks in advance - Sister Mary Endoline

 

The seeds of Aframomum melegueta.

 

The seeds of Elettaria cardamomum (cardamom) are of a related genus, are

sometimes referred to as "grains of paradise," and have been used as a

substitute when the real thing was unavailable. "Grains of paradise" have

also been substituted for cardamom when it was unavailable.

 

Currently, "grains of paradise" are used to flavor Samuel Adam's Summer Ale.

 

Bear

 

 

Date: Mon, 31 Aug 1998 21:52:55 -0400

From: mermayde  at juno.com (Christine A Seelye-King)

Subject: SC - Grains of Paradise

 

This came over the Tavern Yard from a friend who's a cook. I thought

there might be some who would like to have this definition.

        Christianna

- --------- Begin forwarded message ----------

From: "Keith A. Bradley" <kbrad  at gte.net>

I fowarded the question to a professional chemist/SCA friend of mine.  I

thought I would share his answer.

Arland

 

Grains of Paradise

 

Grains of Paradise, Guinea Grains, Melegueta or Mallaguetta Pepper, from

Ampelopsis Grana Paradisi, or Habzeli of Ethiopia (Kanang of Ethiopia).

Two kinds of these grains are known in the English markets, one plumper

than the other. One may be that imported into America from West Africa,

and into England from plants introduced into Demerara, where they are

thought to be a product of A. Melegueta. They resemble Pepper in their

effects, but are seldom used except in veterinary practice and to give

strength to spirits, wine, beer, and vinegar. The seeds have a rich

reddish-brown colour.

 

Used plant part

Seed. The seeds have approximately the size and the shape of cardamom

seeds (3 mm), but are reddish-brown in colour. In powdered form, they

become pale grey. A good photo of the seeds is shown by Norman.

 

Plant family

Zingiberaceae (ginger family).

 

Sensoric quality

Spicy, hot and warm, a little bitter.

 

Main constituents

In the acetone extract of Ghanese grains or paradise, the following

hydroxyphenylalkanones were found:

1-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-decan-3-one(called (6)-paradole),

1-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-3-hendecan-3-one(called(7)-paradole) and

1-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-3-hendeca-4-ene-3-one (called

(6)-shoagole) in approximately equal parts. (Phytochemistry, 14, 853,

1975).Other work reports (6)-paradole and (6)-gingerole

(5-hydroxy-(6)-paradole).

 

Origin

West Africa (Nigeria to Ghana). Most imports stem from Ghana. In the

countries of origin, the seeds are used not only to flavour food, but

they are also chewed on cold days to warm the body.

 

Etymology

In the Middle Ages, the spice was termed graines of paradise because of

its high value. Guinea and Malagetta refer to the region of origin. About

the elements -amomum in the genus name see cardamom.

 

The grains of paradise have been an important spice in 15.th century

Europe, when spices were high in demand, but the sea route to India has

not yet been discovered. In these times, grains of paradise were a common

substitute for black pepper. The West African coast got its name "pepper

coast" because the grains of paradise were traded there. Since then, the

importance of this spice has vanished to quite zero in our days; outside

its production area (Central Africa), it is only known in Northern Africa

and may appear in Moroccan spice mixtures (see cubeb pepper). See also

sichuan pepper for a comparision of several pungent spices.

 

Apart from Morocco, grains of paradise are also popular in neighbouring

Tunisia. Tunisian stews are frequently flavoured with an aromatic mixture

called glat dagga, which contains grains of paradise besides black pepper

and several sweet spices: cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Combining peppery

pungency and rich aroma, this mixture is a good example of Arab cooking

tradition.

 

In the West, grains of paradise are now hard to obtain, but still

valuable for people following old recipes (e.g., for sausages or

aromatized wine).

But this spice are a worthy addition to many other everyday dishes. Its

pungency is not as strong as pepper, but more subtle and goes well with

vegetables (potatoes, aubergines, pumpkin). To obtain best results,

grains of paradise must be ground before use and should be added shortly

before serving. Despite their rather pungent taste when tried alone, they

must be used liberally to obtain satisfactory results.

 

see:

http://bkfug.kfunigraz.ac.at/~katzer/engl/Afra_mel.html

 

 

Date: Sun, 20 Jun 1999 17:29:12 -0700

From: "J. Kriss White" <jkrissw  at earthling.net>

To: sca-arts  at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Dat's a speecy/spicy meat-a-ball....

 

Grains of Paradise are the size of peppercorns, but brown on the outside

and white inside, tasting like a "sweet" pepper. (The substitute I've

heard suggested is 2/3 black pepper and 1/3 allspice.)  I just ground some

up and used it as a rub on some beef I was barbecuing recently, and

OOOOHHHH was it good! :-)  From what the gentleman at "All Spice" said, it

came very close to displacing black pepper as the European standard in the

15th/16th centuries due to economic reasons.  (It came right from the west

coast of Africa, whereas black pepper came from "the Indies", through a

good half-dozen middlemen on the way.)  It's a more complex flavor than

black pepper, which would make it excellent for certain uses (like my

barbecued beef), but not as versatile as black pepper because of that same

complexity.

 

Lord Daveed of Granada, mka J. Kriss White,

Barony of Calafia, Kingdom of Caid

 

 

Date: Wed, 3 May 2000 22:32:49 -0000

From: "=?iso-8859-1?Q?Nanna_R=F6gnvaldard=F3ttir?=" <nannar  at isholf.is>

Subject: Re: SC - grains of paradise article

 

Caitlin of Enniskillen wrote:

>I have noted as I poke into various food Encyclopedias in the bookstores,

>that none list "grains of paradise" as a spice (even Larousse's

>Gastronomique, which has othher errors, too. I think it is an interesting

>phenomenon, especially as other medieval or renaissance "cooking practices"

>are often mentioned in passing...

 

Some of them might list the spice under another name. Larousse, for example,

has Guinea pepper (only three or four lines of text, though). The Oxford

Companion to Food uses the name Melegueta pepper. Malagueta pepper is

another variation.

 

Nanna

 

 

Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000 13:11:38 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD  at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Columbus' chilies

 

> >I apologize for being imprecise.  Rather than "grains of paradise," I should

> >have used Aframomum melegueta.  "Grains of paradise" has been used to

> >describe cardamom seeds as well as the melegueta pepper.

>

> What's the evidence for that? I've seen the assertion, but never the

> basis for it. The tastes are entirely unrelated, which makes me

> skeptical.

>

> Or did you mean "'Grains of paradise' has been used to describe

> cardamom seeds by the authors of bad modern secondary sources on

> medieval cooking?"

 

According to the OED, cardamom has been used to refer to A. melegueta.

Grains of paradise also refers to A. melegueta.  While the OED doesn't show

cardamom and grains of paradise as being synonyms, the fact that they are

both used to refer to the same spice makes it probable they were used

interchangeably at times.  

 

The earliest references to malagueta pepper seem to tie it to the East

Indies.  Since the use of the terms grains of paradise and malagueta pepper

pre-date the major trade in A. melegueta from West Africa, it is probable

that malagueta pepper and grains of paradise were a member or members of

Amomum imported from Asia and were supplanted by by A. melegueta as part of

a marketing ploy by the Portuguese.

 

Guinea pepper has been used to mean A. melegueta and cayenne pepper.

According to Trager (questionable source), the Portuguese were trading

chilies into India in 1525, which could mean that a 16th Century recipe

calling for guinea pepper might be talking about chili pepper.  Guinea

grains I would expect to be malagueta pepper.

 

The OED provides the following:

 

Grain

 

4.  Specialized applications of the plural.  a. (in full Grains of paradise:

in early use also sing.);  the capsules of Amomum meleguetta of Western

Africa (cf. cardamom b.), used as a spice and in medicine; called also

Guinea grains (see GUINEA).

?a 1366 Chaucer Rom. Rose 1369 Clowe-gelofre, and licoryce, Gingere, and

greyn de Parys [orig. Grains de paradis], c 1386 Miller's T. 504, But first

he cheweth greyn and lycryce, To smellen swete.  c 1420 Liber Cocorum (1862)

38 Take..of maces, cloves and graynys also.  c. 1460 J. Russell Bk. Nurture

126 Graynes of paradise, hoote and moyst they be.  1542 Borde Dyetary (1870)

286 Graynes be good for the stomake and the head.  1614 B. Johnson Barth.

Fair iv.iv,  I'ld cure him now.. with.. garlike, long pepper and graines.

1669 Worlidge Syst. Agric. (1681) 225 Steep the Regulus of Antimony in Ale,

with a little of the spice called Grains.  1705 Bosman Guinea 305 Malagueta,

otherwise called Paradise Grains or Guinea Pepper.  1743 Lond. & Country

Brew. IV, 288 When I found it [Two Penny Drink] left a hot Tang behind it,

it gave me just Reason to believe they had used Grains of Paradise, or long

Pepper, both which will save Malt.  1812 J Smyth Prac. of Customs (1821) 96

Guinea Grains and Grains of Paradise are considered by the Trade, as one and

the same article.  1850 Kingsley Alt. Locke viii, 'Beer poisoned wi' grains

o' Paradise and cocculus indicus.'

 

 

Cardamom

...

A spice consisting of the seed capsules of various species of Amomum and

Elettaria...

 

b.  Also occas. applied to the capsules of A. meleguetta of Western Africa,

usually called Grains of Paradise.

 

 

Guinea Pepper

 

a.  An early name for Cayenne pepper.

 

b.  (see quot. 1839)

 

1839 Penny Cycl. XI, 480/2 Guinea pepper, the seeds of two species of

Amomum, found on the West Coast of Africa, within the tropics; the one

Amomum grana Paradisi, the other, Amomum grandiflorum. They are powerfully

aromatic, stimulant and cordial.

 

From Allen, Gary, "The Pantry in the Tower of Babel," European Cooking From

Rome to the Renaissance, Conference Proceedings, pg 7-11; Colorado Springs,

2000.

 

More puzzling is the sudden appearance of several variants on "Malaguetta."

It doesn't appear to be a place name.  The Oxford English Dictionary

provides a rather confused etymology:

 

[Of obscure origin:  App. identical with med.L.melageta, the name of a spice

mentioned c1214 in connection with cloves and cardamoms, and said a1331 to

be among the productions of Java ... in 1486 Simon a Cordo (Clavis

Sanationis) explains the word as a diminutive of It. melica millet remarking

that the grains resemble those of millet.  This seems probable; but if the

word be of European origin it has either been adopted in a corrupt form into

some West African langs., or confused with a native word, the source of the

earliest Eng. form and of the F. maniguette.  In 1599 Townsend (Hakl. Voy

II. ii 27) in a list of phrases from the language of Guinea gives 'manegete

afoye, graines ynough.'  Miss M. Kingsley West Afr. Studies (1899) ii. 57

says that in the native lang. at Cape Palmas the name is emanequetta, but

that as the name is very local (the more usual word is waiauzag) a European

origin is possible.]

 

If the 1214 date is accurate, our Meleguetta Pepper got its name from yet

another spice (a not-unheard-of process) which is, as yet, unidentified.

The 1331 statement would seem to allude to something in Marco Polo (for

there were no other reliable accounts at the time), but the passage he wrote

of Java (or Canba, as he callet it) is only a page long. The entire

relevant passage is:

 

"This island is full of very great wealth.  They have pepper in this island

and nutmegs and spikenard and galingale and cubebs and cloves and in short

all other kinds of good and dear spicery which one could find in the world."

> >A. melegueta is a West African plant and the Portuguese were the primary

> source for Europe after opening the West African trade in the first half of

> the 15th Century.

> >

> >It is possible that the Islamic world introduced A. melegueta to Europe

> >prior to the Portuguese, but Islamic contact with West Africa seems to have

> >been limited until Timbuktu fell to the Berbers in 1433.

>

> Could be--but you don't need conquest for trade. Gold was coming up

> long before that.

>

> David Friedman

 

Do you have any dates on the trade?  A lot of things came from the

Trans-Sahara in Antiquity, when the Sahara was still a grassland and travel

was relatively easy.  After it turned to desert, the trade route between

Mali and the Mediterranean became one of the deadliest in the world and it

was essentially abandoned.  IIRC, it became a major slave trading route only

in the 17th and 18th Centuries as the supply of slaves from Europe was cut

off.

 

Bear

 

 

Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000 18:08:43 -0400 (EDT)

From: Jenne Heise <jenne  at tulgey.browser.net>

Subject: RE: SC - Columbus' chilies

 

> Or did you mean "'Grains of paradise' has been used to describe

> cardamom seeds by the authors of bad modern secondary sources on

> medieval cooking?"

 

Actually, 'grains of paradise' has been described as cardomom by a bad

secondary source on herbs and herbalism, relying on information from 19th

century spice industry. (That is, _Spices and Herbs, Lore and Cookery_, by

Elizabeth Hayes. _NOT_ a good source.)

 

I went chasing this at one point... I'll see if I can duplicate my tracks.

Because I came to the conclusion that the conflating of grains of paradise

and cardamom was actually semi-modern instead of period...

 

Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, mka Jennifer Heise       jenne  at tulgey.browser.net

 

 

Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2000 12:16:12 -0400 (EDT)

From: Jenne Heise <jenne  at tulgey.browser.net>

Subject: RE: SC - Columbus' chilies

 

> According to the OED, cardamom has been used to refer to A. melegueta.

 

Note that the OED says:

> Cardamom

> ...

> A spice consisting of the seed capsules of various species of Amomum and

> Elettaria...

>

> b.  Also occas. applied to the capsules of A. meleguetta of Western Africa,

> usually called Grains of Paradise.

 

Note the 'occas.' which is very important. Also the lack of a date... so

we don't know when it

 

> Grains of paradise also refers to A. melegueta. While the OED doesn't show

> cardamom and grains of paradise as being synonyms, the fact that they are

> both used to refer to the same spice makes it probable they were used

> interchangeably at times.  

 

I've seen 'grains of paradise' explained as cardamom, but not the other

way around.

 

> The earliest references to malagueta pepper seem to tie it to the East

> Indies.  Since the use of the terms grains of paradise and malagueta pepper

> pre-date the major trade in A. melegueta from West Africa, it is probable

> that malagueta pepper and grains of paradise were a member or members of

> Amomum imported from Asia and were supplanted by by A. melegueta as part of

> a marketing ploy by the Portuguese.

 

What you are postulating here is that cardomom (or some unknown variant of

cardomom) was also called grains of paradise before 1460, and when the

Portuguese started importing A. Melegueta, they claimed it was grains of

paradise and so the words diverged, cardomom meaning one spice and grains

of paradise another. (You also seem to be postulating that A. melegueta

could not have been available in England until the water route to West

Africa was opened...)

 

Now, from my friends the secondary sources (unreliable or otherwise, you

decide)

 

J.O. Swahn, _The Lore of Spices_ (a relatively 'popular' source)

 

'The Arabs had monopoly on pepper before about 1500, provoking others to

look for sources outside India. IN 1460-- the year when Europe's

pioneering explorationist in Portugal, Henry the Navigator, died-- one of

his ships returned to Lisbon, full of slaves and 'grains of paradise'

found somewhere on the Guinea coast of western Africa. This cargo struck

the city's spicelovers like a bomb. Paradise-grain was an excellent

substitute for pepper [my note: SCA-Cooks will probably explode that

notion], and so cheap that several traders with plenty of genuine pepper

went bankrupt.

The nicely named upstart was not really new. Paradise-grain had reached

Europe earlier, and at greater expense, by caravan across the Sahara....

Its related name "melegueta pepper" is due to the medieval kingdom of

Mali, founded by the Mandingo people, who controlled much of the spice's

trade northward...

We first hear of Paradise grain in 1214, at a festival in Treviso, Italy.

One of the spectacles was to watch a model castle being captured by

bombarding its defenders--- twelve pretty girls-- with flowers, candy, and

grana paradiso. During the same century, this spice was called "Grawn

Paris" in Wales...'

 

C. Anne Wilson, _Food and Drink in Britain_

"Grains of paradise began to reach Europe from the Guinea cost of West

Africa during the 13th century. They gained such great popularity as a

cooking spice, and were imported in such quantity that their place of

origin became known as the 'grain coast'. By 1284 their price was no more

than fourpence a pound." (p.284)

 

If Swahn is correct about what happened in 1214, it does suggest

that something else might have been called 'grana paradiso', unless it

was obtained reasonably cheaply (or was, perhaps, candied?)

 

However, the whole argument rests on the idea that A. melegueta was

unobtainable in period, and that's a shaky premise....

 

John Baptista Porta, on the other hand, says in _Natural Magick_ 1584,

"You shall draw out a water from the seeds of Cardamom, (which

Apothecaries call Grains of Paradise) Cubebs, Indian Cloves, raspings of

Brasil and Spirit of Wine distilled" (I regard Porta as an unreliable

primary source, myself.) The curious thing about this, is that he is using

grains of paradise and cardamom interchangeably in the 16th century, long

after grains of paradise were imported.

 

However, C. Anne Wilson may provide the key here. In speaking of the Early

Modern period, (16th & 17th centuries), she says:

 

"[The housewife] had gained new cooking spices, but also lost a few, among

them zeodary, galingale, cubebs and cardamom and the home-grown peony

seed. All were still in use, however, for medical preparations. The

pungent grains of paradise lingered on as a condiment for ale and beer."

(p 293)

 

Add that to Porta's note that 'the Apothecaries' call cardamom grains of

paradise, and the deserved reputation of Apothecaries for selling one

thing for another... Porta might have been buying grains of paradise sold

to him as 'the same thing as cardamom' by the Apothecary who didn't have

any cardamom. (Recognize that scenario, anyone?)

 

Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, mka Jennifer Heise       jenne  at tulgey.browser.net

 

 

Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2000 16:03:07 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD  at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Columbus' chilies

 

Actually, what I was postulating was that the original malagueta pepper was

a member(s) of the species Amomum from the East Indies and was simply

replaced by A. melegueta as a plentiful and cheaper substitute.  This is

based on the OED reference which ties it to cloves and cardamoms with a 1214

date.  Cardamom was not specifically mentioned in this paragraph and while I

was equating grains of paradise and malagueta pepper, it is equally possible

they were not the same thing.

 

The OED reference dovetails nicely with Swahn's fair at Treviso.  Treviso

lies northwest of Venice, was a Venetian trading partner, and came under

Venetian control in the 14th Century.  Venice was involved in the Asiatic

spice trade and would later come to monopolize it.  While it doesn't rule

out West African spices, the spices at Treviso were most likely of Asiatic

origin.  Do you have any idea of the source of his information about the

fair?

 

Since, the OED does not reference grains of paradise with this same date, it

is possible that Swahn is using grains of paradise as a synonym for

malagueta pepper.  I do question his etymology for melegueta pepper.

 

As to the spice trade, the question is not so much whether A. melegueta

could have been available in Europe, but whether it could have been

available in commercial quantities.  Given the travel conditions between the

Mediterranean and the Niger Basin, I question that the markets of Europe

were supplied by caravan with A. melegueta in quantity. Gold, being

imperishable, could be traded from point to point, as conditions permitted,

but perishable commodities require more expeditious delivery.  

 

Do Swahn and Wilson provide any sources to support their statements that

grains of paradise came to Europe from West Africa prior to the Portuguese

navigation of the coast?

 

Being unfamiliar with Porta, why do you consider him an unreliable source?

 

Bear

 

 

Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2000 19:00:09 -0400 (EDT)

From: Jenne Heise <jenne  at tulgey.browser.net>

Subject: RE: SC - Columbus' chilies (fwd)

 

> The OED reference dovetails nicely with Swahn's fair at Treviso.  Treviso

> lies northwest of Venice, was a Venetian trading partner, and came under

> Venetian control in the 14th Century.  Venice was involved in the Asiatic

> spice trade and would later come to monopolize it. While it doesn't rule

> out West African spices, the spices at Treviso were most likely of Asiatic

> origin.  Do you have any idea of the source of his information about the

> fair?

 

Unfortunately, I do not have the reference, though I recall seeing mention

of just such a tournament in tournament books. I'll look for it.

 

However, on what do you base the contention that the Venetian trade was

exclusively in Asiatic spices? They were buying from Arabic trading

centers, rather than going direct to and from Asia. In this case, you

would need an Islamic source, as the Arabs routinely spun fairy tales

about the origins of various spices for the 'edification' of their

customers.

> Since, the OED does not reference grains of paradise with this same date, it

> is possible that Swahn is using grains of paradise as a synonym for

> malagueta pepper.  I do question his etymology for melegueta pepper.

 

I also question his etymology, but a quick look would tell you why the OED

doesn't give the same date, as neither reference is in English. [OED

references only recorded instances of the word in English, of course.]

 

> As to the spice trade, the question is not so much whether A. melegueta

> could have been available in Europe, but whether it could have been

> available in commercial quantities.  Given the travel conditions between the

> Mediterranean and the Niger Basin, I question that the markets of Europe

> were supplied by caravan with A. melegueta in quantity.  Gold, being

> imperishable, could be traded from point to point, as conditions permitted,

> but perishable commodities require more expeditious delivery.  

 

Not that expeditious. Delivery of spices from India was actually

agonizingly slow, leading some to the theory that the use of relatively

significant quantities of spices was a reaction to the fact that by the

time they got to market, spices might be several years old and had lost

some of their potency. When you see lists of what can travel far and still

keep, spices, along with textiles and metals, are mentioned.

 

> Do Swahn and Wilson provide any sources to support their statements that

> grains of paradise came to Europe from West Africa prior to the Portuguese

> navigation of the coast?

 

Wilson gives two references, though I'm not sure it's to the trade rather

than to the price of grains of paradise:

H.S. Redgrove, _Spices & Condiments_ (1933), p. 281; M.S. Giuseppi, 'The

wardrobe and household accounts of Bogo de Clare, A.D. 1284-6',

_Archaelogia_ (1920), 70, p. 32.

> Being unfamiliar with Porta, why do you consider him an unreliable source?

 

Where Porta describes scientific procedures he may well be an accurate

witness. However, comparing him against similar works of the time, I would

say that when it comes, for instance, to household helps, he lets his

theory and the works of the ancients run away with him, rather than

documenting actual practice. (In other words, he's a secondary source from

a credulous time, about as reliable as the modern New Age health gurus!)

 

Further-- and more to the point--, in the sidenotes for the work online,

an article by Derek Johnson from the Smithsonian institution (1957), which

includes the admission, "He had a distinct tendency to embroider the truth

a little by stretching a point here and and point there, so as to bring

out the full wonder and marvel of the world, striving nevertheless to

retain coherence and rationality of the whole. "

 

If Culpepper tells me that apothecaries sell cardomom under the name

grains of paradise, I would tend to believe him... he trained to be an

apothecary. However, Porta may well be simply repeating some statement (as

medieval and Renaissance secondary sources do) that he has garnered, no

more reliably than a modern secondary source.

 

Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, mka Jennifer Heise       jenne  at tulgey.browser.net

 

 

Date: Sun, 2 Jul 2000 20:45:38 -0700

From: "David Dendy" <ddendy  at silk.net>

Subject: SC - Grains of Paradise and Cardamom

 

Frequently one meets the assertion that grains of paradise and cardamom are

the same thing, particularly among SCA cooks and (all too often, alas) among

writers on culinary reconstruction. This is usually a case of the incredible

power of misinformation.

 

(Once a piece of false information gets into circulation, it is almost

impossible to track it down and kill it. It keeps getting repeated by people

who don't go back to primary sources to confirm accuracy of information, but

just repeat information as they find it. A wonderful case of this, although

out of our period, is the supposed story of the first bathtub in the United

States, allegedly imported in 1843 and the cause of great deal of opposition

from those who believed bathing to be unhealthy. This story was made up as

joke in the 1920s by H.L Mencken, but despite its being immediately exposed

as fiction, the exposure never caught up with the story. I saw the story

given as historical fact on American television just last year!)

 

In the case of the cardamom=grains of paradise identification, the same

process happens. Once the initial misidentification was made (and I have not

yet tracked down the original errors, but if you think of some of the other

clangers in the early books on historical cookery, it's not surprising),

following writers simply copied that original error.

 

I suspect what happened was that the first writer, realizing that grains of

paradise were not available where they lived (probably the US, but maybe

Britain), saw in the dictionaries that they were said to be *similar* to

cardamom, and suggested the substitution. Later writers just simplified the

process, and said "are" instead of "may be substituted for". Easy to do when

taking notes. And once into the literature, the identification would be be

unquestioned except be a specialist on spices.

 

If we look back to the various sources, such as herbal and materia medica,

we find that period people (at least by the 15th century) were well aware of

the *similarity* of Grains of Paradise (aka "meleguetta", "jaws as-sark",

"nox d'exarch", etc) and cardamon. This is not surprising -- both seeds and

fruit capsules are similar, although grains of paradise have redder seeds,

larger darker fruit capsules, and a much hotter taste than cardamom. But

*similar* is not the same as *identical* -- the apothecaries wrote that one

might be used as a substitute (or succudeant) for the other, in case the

druggist did not have the required one on hand -- this though, is proof not

that the two were the same, but rather proof that they were *not* -- a

substitute is something different but which has similar properties (for

example, the apothecaries might also suggest substuting ginger if one was

out of pepper, but that didn't mean they thought ginger and pepper were the

same thing!)

 

For specific evidence that people in period did not think grains of paradise

and cardamom were the same thing, I'll cite three examples from original

sources:

 

1] The famous recipe for "Ypocras" in the *Forme of Cury", which calls for,

among other spices, a quarter of an ounce of "cardemonii" *and* a half ounce

of "grayne de paradys". (Constance B. Hieatt and Sharon Butler, ed., *Curye

on Inglysch* [London: Early English Texts Sociey, 1985], p. 143.)

 

2] In 1311 the spices purchased for Queen Isabella of England included,

among others, two pounds of "grani paradisi" at two shillings sixpence per

pound, and two pounds of "cardamome" at five shillings per pound. (Note that

the cardamom cost twice as much as the grains of paradise, which is what

might be expected for something coming the farther distance from India as

compared to the Grains of Paradise from West Africa). (reference: F.D.

Blackley and G. Hermanson, ed., *The Household Book of Queen Isabella of

England* [Edmonton, Alberta: University of Alberta Press, 1971], pp.

108-109)

 

3] The list of 288 spices in the merchant's manual by Pegolotti (written at

Florence between 1310 and 1340) included, as separate items, cultivated

cardamoms, wild cardamoms, and grains of paradise ("meleghette"). (This is

in keeping with the run of medieval materia medica, which distinguished two

types of cardamoms -- my estimation being, from the descriptions I have

seen, that the "cultivated" would correspond to the most usual green or

white that are the normal cardamom in the West, while the "wild" corresponds

to the larger and coarser-flavoured "black:" cardamom of India.)

 

So much for showing that cardamom and grains of paradise were not the same

thing. Next I'll put together the information on what Grains of Paradise

*were*, where they came from, and how they were used, and send another

message on that subject shortly.

 

Francesco Sirene

David Dendy / ddendy  at silk.net

partner in Francesco Sirene, Spicer / sirene  at silk.net

Visit our Website at http://www.silk.net/sirene/

 

 

Date: Mon, 3 Jul 2000 09:05:59 -0700

From: "David Dendy" <ddendy  at silk.net>

Subject: SC - History of Grains of Paradise

 

Greetings all

 

Here is a rough history of Grains of Paradise. Since I'm putting this

together on the fly, no doubt there will be some details missed the first

time, and I'm leaving out much tedious detail, so query anything which seems

to be missing or garbled.

 

Botanically, Grains of Paradise are the small seeds, angular and dark

red-brown, with a hot "spicy" flavour, of a West African plant of the ginger

family, *Aframomum meleguetta* (and sometimes of a couple of other closely

related species). They grow in the forested area of West Africa, near the

coasts, especially in Liberia (known to the Portuguese voyagers as the Grain

Coast), but also eastward through Ghana and Nigeria as far as Cameroon. They

have various names in the African languages, and are used both medicinally

and culinarily.

 

In terms of our interest (medieval cookery in Europe and the Islamic world),

there has been a great deal of confusion on account of the fact that several

different names have been used in different areas.

 

Grains of Paradise (Grains for short) first appear in the available sources

in the medical literature of the far west of Islam (western North Africa) in

the 12th century, under the Arabic name of "jawz as-sirk" (or similar,

depending on your transcription), which means literally "nut of association"

(which has to do with being from non-Muslim lands -- i.e. "the association

of God and other gods = infidels") or "gawz as-Sudan" ("nut of the Blacks").

Ahmad al-Ghafiqi (12th century), al-Idrisi (ca. 1099-1154), Moses Maimonides

(1135-1204), and Ibn al-Baytar (d. 1248) all mention it, and are definite

that it comes from West Africa to the south of them (for example, Idrisi

writes "I have seen this nut in the farthest Maghrib, where it comes from

the land of the Negros.")

 

From the western Arab countries the product moved across the Mediterranean

to Spain and the south of France, where it was known as "notz ysserca",

"notz ycherca", "noix d'exarch", and other various forms, all of which are

semi-translations of "jawz as-sirk" -- that is, "notz" or "noix" is "jawz"

translated, but the rest of the name is simply transliterated in a more or

less garbled form. This name was the usual usage in the western

Mediterranean -- Spain, Provence, and so on.

 

The next name, "meleguttta", "meregete", "meleghete", and myriad other

forms, is found initially in Italy and its use spreads throughout southern

Europe. The origin is uncertain -- it has been suggested to be a diminutive

of "millet", the grain, on the basis of appearace, but probably the

likeliest answer is that the name is connected to Mali, the kingdom in West

Africa (fabled for its wealth) through which the spice came on its way

north. It is under this name ("melegetis") that Grains have their first

appearance in European literature. Rolandinus Patavinus wrote a description

of a festival at Treviso in 1214 in which a mock battle was held where the

ladies defending the castle pelted their attackers with flowers and spices,

among which was this "melegetis" (among the other spices, incidentally, was

"cardamo", so it is clear that even at this early date they were known to be

different). During the 13th century, medical texts from as far as Nicea in

the Byzantine Empire mention meleguetta.

 

The final name, Grains of Paradise, is what we are most familiar with,

simply because it was what was normally used in northern Europe (northern

France, Germany, England, Germany, etc.). The form of the name of course

varies (in France "Graine de Paradis", but sometimes corrupting to "Graine

de Paris"; in Germany "Paradieskorner", etc.). One can only assume that the

name was bestowed for the double reason of a liking of the flavour and an

uncertainty, by the time the spice got this far, of its original source.

 

The links between the various names are well-establishable, by equivalencies

in various materia medica and merchants' handbooks. I won't go into the

details here -- contact me if you need more particulars.

 

Oddly, I haven't discovered evidence that grains were used in the Islamic

world as a spice (please do let me know if any of you have found such

examples!), where they were primarily a medicament. In Europe, on the other

hand, their bite seems to have been appreciated early in cooking, and they

rapidly became popular. Most of the medieval and early Renaissance cookbooks

call for them. And account books back up that popularity. For example, in

English accounts (with which I am most familiar), there are the following

examples.  The household of Bogo de Clare, during a fifteen-month period in

1285-86, bought 50.5 pounds of grains of paradise, as compared with 23.5

pounds of saffron, 35 pounds of ginger, 24 pounds of pepper, 25 pounds of

cinnamon, 10 pounds of cloves, and lesser amounts of other spices. The

accounts of Walter of Wenlock, Abbot of westminster, for just under a year

in 1289-90, show purchases of 23 pounds of grains, 13 pounds of pepper, 18

pounds of galingale, 7 pounds of saffron, and one pound each of cinnamon,

mace, cubebs, cloves, and ginger. In both establishments, grains were the

most heavily used flavouring spice. [Sorry about the saffron, Lord Ras]

 

Grains of Paradise were regularly present, though in lesser quantities,

throughout the rest of the period up to the 1600. The reason for the extreme

popularity in the late 13th century may have been the price -- in the 13th

century grains averaged about 4 pence a pound when bought in large lots,

compared to pepper at about 8 pence. From the 14th century on grains rose in

price, and were consistently more expensive than pepper. There was another

burst of popularity of grains in England during the early to mid 16th

century, probably related to the beginning of English trading voyages to

West Africa.

 

Thus it may be seen that Grains of Paradise were a popular and relatively

common spice in Europe long before the Portuguese began their voyages to

West Africa in the mid-15th century. The Portuguese simply brought by a new

sea route what had long been coming by the trans-Saharan caravan route.

 

I haven't given the bibliographic details on my sources here, to avoid being

interminable, but if anyone needs the specific source for a particular piece

of information, please e-mail me. And if anyone has additional information

which I might not have (particularly on usage in the Islamic world and

continental Europe), please let me know, with details on where to find the

references.

 

Francesco Sirene

David Dendy / ddendy  at silk.net

partner in Francesco Sirene, Spicer / sirene  at silk.net

Visit our Website at http://www.silk.net/sirene/

 

 

Date: Mon, 3 Jul 2000 08:32:39 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD  at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Grains of Paradise and Cardamom

 

The idea that doubling the delivery distance doubles the price is

questionable logic.  Spices at the time were low volume, high value goods.

Dealers charged what the traffic would bear and availability and

desirability would have more to do with the price than transport distance.  

 

In 1503, the Portuguese delivered 1,300 tons of black pepper to Europe.

They traversed a greater distance at considerably more risk than the

Venetians who traded through the Mameluks of Egypt, but the price of pepper

in Europe dropped by 1/3 at the tremendous availability and the removal of

the Mameluk middlemen.  The demand was still so high, it kept the market

from collapsing.

 

To evaluate the effect of transportation costs on a spice, one needs to know

about the quatities imported over a given period, the usage and the demand.

 

Bear

 

> 2] In 1311 the spices purchased for Queen Isabella of England included,

> among others, two pounds of "grani paradisi" at two shillings sixpence per

> pound, and two pounds of "cardamome" at five shillings per pound. (Note that

> the cardamom cost twice as much as the grains of paradise, which is what

> might be expected for something coming the farther distance from India as

> compared to the Grains of Paradise from West Africa). (reference: F.D.

> Blackley and G. Hermanson, ed., *The Household Book of Queen Isabella of

> England* [Edmonton, Alberta: University of Alberta Press, 1971], pp.

> 108-109)

>

> Francesco Sirene

 

 

Date: Mon, 3 Jul 2000 23:37:19 -0700

From: "David Dendy" <ddendy  at silk.net>

Subject: So-called Chineses "Grains of Paradise" was Re: [Fwd: SC - Columbus' chilies]

 

This is about the use of the term "Grains of Paradise" in *A Soup for the

Qan*, implying use of what we think of as Grains of Paradise in Medieval

China. Scroll down for my response. Francesco

- -

Paul Buell wrote:

[snip] "Grains-of-paradise" (shu-sha) are unquestionably not regular

cardamom in the Yin-shan cheng-yao (1330), the official Mongol court dietary

for China, but some other Amomum (but not Tsao-ko or anything resembling

it). Precisely which we are still debating (my species identification in the

book is based on what was meant by the Chinese term in the standard

medicinals and spices trade of later times, but we don't know for sure).

[snip] But one thing for sure, what we call "grains-of-paradise" was clearly

distinct from regular cardamom and the large smoky kinds called Tsao-ko in

the early Chinese texts. This is some other spice. We have assumed it is

exactly what the name implies until evidence has accumulated to prove

otherwise. However, my colleague Anderson points out that ascribed

properties of this "grains-of-paradise" do appear to be different from those

ascribed to it later. I will ask him to comment.

 

 

Gene Anderson wrote:

Some questions have arisen about "grains of paradise" and other spices.

The problem is a lack of words in English for all the East Asian cardamom

species. [snip] We follow Shiu-ying Hu's usage in AN ENUMERATION OF CHINESE

MATERIA MEDICA, and she uses "grains of paradise" for sha-jen (sha-ren),

which literally means "sand kernels" and refers to the southeast Asian

cardamom species _Amomum xanthioides_ and _A. villosum_. (Other terms with

"sha" in them turn up; the CCPYSL uses a weird nonstandard character + sha.)

These contrast with ts'ao-ko "grass cardamom," _Amomum tsaoko_, and ordinary

green or white cardamom, pai tou k'ou (bai dou kou, lit. "white bean

cardamom"), _Elettaria cardamomum_ (Hu

thinks this includes _Amomum kravanh_ also, but I bet the YSCY would have

included that under sha-jen).

Of course the normal usage of "grains of paradise" in English is to refer

to the West African cardamom, or Melegueta "pepper," _Aframomum melegueta_.

This did not occur in China in the middle ages, so far as anyone

knows--though it was traded so widely in Europe and the Near East that it

probably reached China sometimes.

 

Now for my own weigh-in (Francesco):

 

Using my own reference library (*Chinese Medicinal Herbs*, compiled by Li

Shih-chen, translated and researched by F. Porter Smith and G.A. Stuart [San

Francisco: Georgetown Press, 1973], pp. 35-39, it is clear that "shu-sha"

(as Buell calls them) or "sha-jen" (as Anderson calls them) are *not*

Aframomum melegueta or any other Aframomum, but rather Amomum xanthioides

("so-sha-jen"), a native of Burma. The mis-use of the name Grains of

Paradise as a translation for them (although simply copying the usage of an

earlier writer) is very unfortunate and perhaps even academically

irresponsible. I say this not to flame the authors of the book, but because

of the permanence of misinformation, once in print. True, readers can

laboriously track down the references and discover that the "Grains of

Paradise" mentioned here is not the same of Grains of Paradise mentioned in

other Western sources, but will the readers do so? or will they simply go

away with the false idea that there was a trade in the spice between West

Africa and China at that time? and quite possibly put that information into

their own writing? Academics (among which I include myself) have a

responsibility to avoid adding to the amount of misinformation in

circulation, even if we cannot dispose of that which is already out there.

 

Yours grumpily,

Francesco Sirene

 

 

Date: Mon, 3 Jul 2000 22:59:47 -0700

From: "David Dendy" <ddendy  at silk.net>

Subject: Meleguetta in the East, was Re: SC - Columbus' chilies

 

Bear wrote:

[not just snip, but great big chop]

 

>[Of obscure origin:  App. identical with med.L.melageta, the name of a spice

>mentioned c1214 in connection with cloves and cardamoms, and said a1331 to

>be among the productions of Java >origin is possible.]

>{snip}

>The 1331 statement would seem to allude to something in Marco Polo (for

>there were no other reliable accounts at the time), but the passage he wrote

>of Java (or Canba, as he callet it) is only a page long.  The entire

>relevant passage is:

>

>"This island is full of very great wealth.  They have pepper in this island

>and nutmegs and spikenard and galingale and cubebs and cloves and in short

>all other kinds of good and dear spicery which one could find in the world."

 

Unfortunately, what this primarily shows is the unreliability of Marco

Polo's book  (Polo did indeed make the trip, but the book was ghost-written

[by a man named Rusticello or something like that -- my copy is not right at

hand] and plenty of nonmsense was added in, probably to make Polo's rather

plodding account more exciting). Java does produce pepper, cubebs,

galingale, and cubebs, but it does *not* produce nutmegs or cloves (products

of the Moluccas), nor spikenard (product of the Himalayas in north India).

However, as you may note, this passage from Marco Polo does not mention

either cardamom or meleguetta. There were indeed other sources on Java in

that period, and I assume the OED reference is to the account of Odoric of

Pordenone, who travelled in the East between 1320 and 1328: "In ipsa (insula

Jaua) nascuntur cubebae, melegetae, nuces que muscatae, multae que aliae

species pretiosae." (ascribing to Java cubebs, meleguetta, nutmegs, and

other precious spices). Here again we may quibble, since nutmegs are a

Moluccan product, not a Javan one. It is possible, since there are various

sorts of large coarse cardamoms which do grow in Java, that Odoric simply

confused them for meleguetta, which would look similar. But whatever the

case, this single casual reference would be a poor evidence for an Eastern

origin for Grains of Paradise, as compared with the ample evidence for an

origin in West Africa, as I gave in my other post. And the argument which I

have seen, that this account supports the idea that meleguetta was

*originally* the name of an Eastern spice, which was later applied to the

West African one, also will not hold water. The Odoric reference is from

1331, more than a hundred years *after* the first European reference to

meleguetta -- so the reasonable inference is that any such shift of name is

rather an effort to place a familiar name (of the West African product) on

to an unfamiliar Eastern spice.

 

By the by, did you notice the similarity of the two passages (Marco Polo and

Odoric)? Does it seem to you that a little plagiarism is going on?

 

Francesco Sirene

 

 

From: "Paul D. Buell" <tbuell2  at home.com>

To: <sca-cooks  at ansteorra.org>

Cc: "Gene Anderson" <gene  at ucrac1.ucr.edu>

Subject: Re: So-called Chineses "Grains of Paradise" was Re: [Fwd: SC - Columbus' chilies]

Date: Wed, 5 Jul 2000 09:01:55 -0700

 

Franceso:

1. Stuart is ancient and not very reliable and out of date. There are

far better sources to use.

 

2. Our identification as to species is based upon the Chung-yao ta

tz'u-tien, 3 vols, 1979, and other editions, which has a long article on

sha-ren or su-sha (other names too). This is the most definitive Chinese

dictionary of herbs and is an excellent guide to the historical sources

(Chinese) too.

 

3. If you had read our book rather than attacking it you would know that

we have chosen, in our popular names for herbs and species, to follow

the official equivalencies of the Chinese Maritime Cutoms' list of the

19th century, that reproduced in Shiu-ying Hu in her An Enumeration of

Chinese Materia Medica (see her introduction) which gives Amomum

villosum and A. xanthiodes for Sha-jen and the popular name

Grains-of-paradise. This was official Ch'ing Dynasty nomenclature. It

was not our choosing. We had to have a standard to achieve consistency

and this was the one we choose. Note that Hu is an eminent botanist and

had very good reasons herself for using this list.

 

4. The terminology is nowhere near as precise as you claim and it was

quite common for several spices or herbs to occur under the same name.

Sometimes even plant materials replaced those of animal origin with the

old names kept. All of which is to say that unless you have a sample of

a spice or herb that can be analyzed you can never know for sure

(absolutely) what is called for in a Medieval text. All we know is what

the Chinese say that Sha-jen was and what it was established as being in

a reliable, standard list of exports and imports compiled by Air Arthur

Hart and his colleages. And note that what went under a name in East

Asia may have been entirely different from what went under the same name

in Europe. If you had delved more into the history of spices and herbs

as trade commodities you would not this. There is a huge literature. The

problem is nearly universal and well-known.

 

5. As for African species in Mongol China: this is entirely possible.

China was in close contact with Africa during the period in question. In

fact we have a huge amount of geographical information about places as

far afield as north Africa in the Chinese sources of the time including

in the texts accompanying the so-called Mongol Atlas of China. So, yes,

we do imply close contacts with Africa during the period we are

interested in. And that such contacts existed is known fact. The Mongols

of China were also close allies of the Mongols in Iran and they had even

closer contacts.

 

5. Rather than being "academically irresponsible" we are being very

cautious. Read our book, we explain our approach.

 

Paul D. Buell

 

 

Date: Wed, 5 Jul 2000 22:54:55 -0700

From: "David Dendy" <ddendy  at silk.net>

Subject: SC - re: So-Called Chinese "Grains of Paradise" (long)

 

Dear Dr. Buell,

 

I apologize if my comments sounded like an attack on you or criticism of

your book as a whole. That was not my intent -- rather I was expressing a

pet frustration of mine, to do with the use of English names for spices

which don't actually have a standard English nomenclature. Think, for

example of the terrible confusion around the world over the term "pepper"

(which, incidentally, comes up even in Chinese studies where the

Xanthoxylums [native to the country and used back to pre-history] are

confused with the Capsicums [native to Central America] because both are

translated into English as "pepper"). As the particular field of research I

have been pursuing for some years is the history of spices (as opposed to

the more usual history of the spice trade), I take details about them more

seriously than most historians do. However, my complaint had to do with only

one small detail from your book, and I in no way am in a position to comment

on the whole, of which I have heard only favourable things.

 

You have some justice in taking me to task for commenting on your book

without having read it -- but only *some*, since I would have read it if I

could. I would dearly like to read it, but have been unable to get my hands

on it. The price, at $225 US, put it out of my range to purchase it when it

first came out (and now discussion on the Cooks List has indicated that it

is unavailable even if one does have the means to buy it). I have tried to

get it through interlibrary loan, but as yet my library (at Okanagan

University College) has not been able to get a copy out of any other

institution in Canada (our borrowing range, generally). The Interlibrary

Loans Librarian says she will try to see if she can get it from one in the

States, but that takes time. If, at any point, the book becomes available in

electronic form or in print again, I am anxious to read it. (If you have a

copy you could yourself lend me, I would be glad to pay the postage and

insurance both ways)

 

I see that, although "Stuart is ancient and not very reliable and out of

date", your more recent and indeed much better source (I agree, I would like

very much to be able to read Chinese and use it also) is in agreement with

Stuart's botanical identification, so there really is no issue there. The

only issue is with the given *English* name, which is not a translation of

the Chinese name in use in Mongol times (or, as far as I know, in Chinese at

a later date). Rather it is a English name ascribed by late 19th century

Englishmen (Sir Arthur Hart and the Chinese Maritime Customs -- in a

document even older and more out-of-date than Stuart). Possibly by that time

some African Grains of Paradise was being shipped to China, but the Amomum

xanthoides and A. villosum (which is what is identified as "sha-ren or

su-sha ") would be coming from Southeast Asia. So it is a 19th century

misnomer which has now been read back to Mongol times. I am sure you do, as

you explain, make it clear in your book that you are using these Maritime

Customs terms, but is this pointed out again at that place where you use the

term "Grains of Paradise"? Since, as I have said, I have been unable to get

my hands on a copy of the book to read it, I don't know. But if not, I am

sure you are familiar with the tendency of readers, even of scholars, to

read only the small part of a book which is relevant to their question of

the moment, and not to check through forewords, afterwords, and explanatory

notes. Will it be obvious to the cursory reader that the English term used

is one ascribed only in the 19th century, and which refers to species of

amomum which not even the largest English dictionaries (e.g. The OED)

include in their definitions of Grains of Paradise? I agree that there would

be from your point of view as authors an attraction to a consistent

Englishing such as the Maritime Customs terms give, and it will work fine in

probably 90 to 95 percent of cases, but in this particular case it is

problematic. I would be much more comfortable in this case with the use

either of the transliterated Chinese term, or the botanical name.

 

I agree entirely with you that "it was quite common for several spices or

herbs to occur under the same name" and there is often difficulty in pinning

down exactly what botanical species may be identified with what given name

at a particular time and place (Indeed, my current research work is largely

concerned with determining what can be pinned down with some certainty, and

what cannot). However, my issue, which I reiterate, is that modern academics

should be doing what we can to clear up the confusion, rather than adding to

it. "Grains of Paradise" has a generally accepted botanical identification

as Aframomum melegueta or A. grani-paradisi; applying it to only very

distantly related Asian species will add to the confusion.

 

Possibly the term "Grains of Paradise" was used of these Southeast Asian

amomums earlier than the late 19th century, but I haven't seen it so (and I

have done considerable reading, as the bibliography of materials I have on

Chinese spice use, given below, will show). Are there sources

(Chinese-language or other) which give it as an equivalent any earlier than

the Maritime Customs list?

 

As to contacts between Africa and China, I agree that there was some

knowledge of Africa (particularly East Africa) in China, and passage of some

commodities. But to leap from that to acknowledging trade in a particular

rather minor *West* African spice (or rather medicament, since I haven't

found evidence of its use as a spice in the literature of the Islamic world,

from which China would perforce receive it) is rather bold. Particularly

since such a trade would need to be extensive enough to make the spice

available to be called for by the cookery writer. The sources available to

me (particularly Wheatley 1959, Chau Ju-kua 1911, Ma Huan 1970, Schafer

1963, and Wang 1958) don't give any hint of such trade in Aframomum

melegueta. However, I am reliant on sources in European languages. Are there

other untranslated Chinese-language sources I have missed, which might

support such an inference? I would be delighted to know if this is so (since

it would provide a whole new facet to the history of Grains of Paradise

which I am working on).

 

Finally, once again I want to assure you that I did not intend to attack

you, and that if my words were too strong it was probably the late night and

grumpiness coming through. I admire those scholars such as yourself who are

able to make available to the rest of us the otherwise closed books of

Chinese and other non-European languages.

 

Yours sincerely.

Francesco Sirene (mka David Dendy, MA)

 

Bibliography:

 

Anderson, E.N.

1988 The Food of China. (New Haven: Yale University Press)

 

Chang, K.C., ed.

1977 Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives.

(New Haven: Yale University Press)

 

Chau Ju-Kua

1911 Chau Ju-Kua: His Work on the Chinese and Arab Trade in the twelfth and

thirteenth centuries, entitled ĎChu-fan-chi'. (St. Petersburg [reprint,

Amsterdam: Oriental Press, 1966])

 

Hsiang Ju Lin and Tsuifeng Lin

1969 Chinese Gastronomy. (New York: Hastings House).

 

Laufer, Berthold

1919 Sino-Iranica: Chinese Contributions to the History of Civilization in

Ancient Iran [Field Museum of Natural History Publication 201;

Anthropological Series Vol. XV, No. 3] (Chicago: Field Museum of Natural

History)

 

Li Shih-chen, compiled

1973 Chinese Medicinal Herbs translated and researched by F. Porter Smith

and G.A. Stuart (San Francisco: Georgetown Press)

 

Ma Huan

1970 Ying-Yai Sheng-Lan: ĎThe Overall Survey of the Ocean's Shores' [1433].

trans. by J.V.G. Mills (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press for the

Hakluyt Society)

 

Ptak, Roderich

1993 "China and the Trade in Cloves, circa 960-1435", Journal of the

American Oriental Society, vol. 113, no. 1, pp. 1-13.

1994 "The Northern Trade Route to the Spice Islands: South China Sea - Sulu

Zone - North Moluccas, (14th to early 16th century)", Archipel, vol. 43, pp.

27-56.

 

Sabban, FranÁoise

1983 "Cuisine a la Cour de l'Empereur de Chine au XIVe siŤcle: Les aspects

culinaires du Yinshan zhengyao de Hu Sihui", Medievales, no. 5, pp. 32-56.

 

Schafer, Edward H.

  1963 The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A Study of TĎang Exotics. (Berkeley:

University of California Press).

 

Schafer, Edward H., and Benjamin E. Wallacker

1957 "Local Tribute Products of the T'ang Dynasty", Journal of Oriental

Studies, vol. IV (1957-58), pp. 213-

 

Simoons, Frederick J.

1991 Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry. (Boca Raton, FL: CRC

Press)

 

Sinoda, Osamu

1977 "The History of Chinese Food and Diet", Progress in Food and Nutrition

Science, vol. 2, pp. 483-497

 

TĎien Ju-Kang

1980 "ChÍng Ho's Voyages and the Distribution of Pepper in China", Journal

of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, no. 2, pp.

186-197.

 

Ts'ao Yung-Ho

1982 "Pepper Trade in East Asia", T'oung Pao, vol. 68, no. 4-5, pp.

221-247.

 

Wang Gungwu

1958 "The Nanhai Trade: A Study of the Early History of Chinese Trade in

the South China Sea", Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic

Society, vol. 31, part 2 (June 1958), pp. 1-135.

 

Wheatley, Paul

1959 "Geographical Notes on some Commodities involved in Sung Maritime

Trade", Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 32,

part 2, pp. 2-140.

1961 The Golden Khersonese: Studies in the Historical Geography of the

Malay Peninsula before A.D. 1500. (Luala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press)

 

Yamada, Kentaro

1976 (A Study of the History of Perfumery and Spices in the Far East).

(Tokyo: Ch  -K ron Bijutsu Shuppan) [in Japanese with English summary]

 

 

Date: Thu, 6 Nov 2003 18:42:21 -0500

From: "Barbara Benson" <vox8  at mindspring.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Grains of Paradise or Not?

To: "Cookswithin the SCA" <sca-cooks  at ansteorra.org>

 

When trying to explain grains to someone I have always described them as

teeeny tiny acorns without the caps....

At least that is what they look like to me.

 

-Serena

 

> hi from Anne-Marie

> grains of paradise are small, angular grains, dark brown/black with a

fluffy white middle. they are much smaller than allspice, which looks to me

like a plump peppercorn. The seed pod grains come from is a largish dry

brown pod, kinda like what shows up on my day lillies :).

>

> chances are, based on your description that what you found was indeed  

> the new world allspice.

>

> --AM

 

 

Date: Thu, 06 Nov 2003 19:23:12 -0500

From: johnna holloway <johnna  at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Grains of Paradise or Not?

To: mwomack  at ix.netcom.com, Cooks within the SCA

        <sca-cooks  at ansteorra.org>

 

mwomack  at ix.netcom.com wrote:

> The other day in a large ethnic market here I found Goya brand malagueta

> which I understand is one of the names for grains of paradise. But they were

> also called allspice on te label.  Are these the same as the grains of

> paradise I see listed in medieval receipts or another spice entirely?  They  

> were about the size of traditional whole allspice and dark brown.

>

> Ninon

 

A quick browse turned up this--

 

Melegueta pepper is native to tropical West Africa and grows mainly in

Ghana. The spice is practically unknown in modrn Western cuisine,

although it was used in Europe in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It

was a flavouring for the old wine ‘Hippocras” and is still used for the

production of beer, wine and spirits, and the flavouring of vinegar.

Meleguetta pepper was geerally known as ‘Grains of Paradise’. In fact

there are two spices, meleguetta pepper and the true Grains of Paradise,

Aframomum granum paradisi, referred to by this name. the Grain Coast of

West Africa is named for the spice . . .

 

Melegueta pepper may be used for culinary purposes and as a substitute

for pepper in centres of local production. Its use is generally confined

to West African cookery, though it may also find its way into Moroccan

ras el hanout combinations. Some ancient European recipes may cll for

it, but pepper mixed with a little ginger may be substituted. . . .

http://pub63.ezboard.com/

fcongocookbookfrm12.showMessage?topicID=84.topic

 

This is almost word for word what is given also in Cooking with Spices

by Heal and Allsop.

 

There's a great deal of confusion about this as the next paragraph  

shows:

 

It would appear that most authors confuse the two species Aframomum

granum-paradisi K. Schum. & Aframomum melegueta (Roscoe) K. Schum. and

identify them both as "grains of paradise". Strictly speaking only A.

granum-paradisi should be called by that name, A. melegueta should be

called the "meleguetta pepper" (a wide ranging number of spellings is

available). We have pointed out the error in English, we invite others

to sort the names in otherlanguages appropriately and let us know the

results.

http://gmr.landfood.unimelb.edu.au/Plantnames/Sorting/Aframomum.html

 

and at least one dictionary just gives up and says:

 

grains of paradise

pl n  the peppery seeds of either of two African zingiberaceus plants,

Aframomum melegueta or A. granum-paradisi, used as stimulants,

diuretics, etc. Also called: guinea grains

http://www.wordreference.com/english/

definition.asp?en=grains+of+paradise

 

 

Jill Norman's Herbs and Spices which has the color illustratons shows

the Amomum melegueta under Grains of Paradise and says they are also

known as melegueta peppers. They look like allspice to me.

 

My guess is you encountered true melegueta peppers.

 

Goya lists them as a South and Central American speciality.

 

Johnnae llyn Lewis

 

 

Date: Sun, 7 Mar 2004 15:41:54 -0700

From: James Prescott <prescotj  at telusplanet.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Cardamom

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks  at ansteorra.org>

 

Some data points:

 

Aliquot (p. 147) says that the popes in Avignon (1300s) used

'cardamomum'.  It is not clear to me from the article whether

this meant cardamom, or was an alternative name for grains of

paradise.

 

(H. Aliquot, "Les épices ą la table des papes d'Avignon au XIVe

siecle", in Manger et boire au moyen age (2 vols).  Actes du Colloque

de Nice, 1982.  Centre d'études medievales de Nice.  Les Belles Lettres.

1984.)

 

Flandrin (p. 76) says that between the 14th and 16th centuries they

used "saffron, ginger, galingale, long and round pepper, grains of

Paradise or 'maniguette', whole cloves, nutmeg and mace, sometimes

cubebs, cardamom, and sandalwood".

 

He indicates (p. 85) that cardamom is called for in recipes in:

LIBER DE COQUINA

LIVRE TOSCAN

LIVRE VENITIEN

TRACTATUS DE MODO PREPARANDI ET CONDIENDI

THE FORME OF CURY

 

(Flandrin, J-L.  "Internationalisme, nationalisme et régionalisme dans

la cuisine des XIVe et XVe siŹcles."  In Manger et boire au moyen age.)

 

Santich (p. 135) says that Libre de Sent Sovi uses cardamom.

 

(Santich, B.  "L'influence italienne sur

l'évolution de la cuisine médiévale catalane."

In Manger et boire au moyen age.)

 

Thorvald

 

 

Date: Sun, 7 Mar 2004 23:06:50 -0500

From: Daniel Myers <edouard  at medievalcookery.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Cardamom

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks  at ansteorra.org>

 

On Mar 7, 2004, at 5:41 PM, James Prescott wrote:

> Flandrin (p. 76) says that between the 14th and 16th centuries they

> used "saffron, ginger, galingale, long and round pepper, grains of

> Paradise or 'maniguette', whole cloves, nutmeg and mace, sometimes

> cubebs, cardamom, and sandalwood".

>

> He indicates (p. 85) that cardamom is called for in recipes in:

> LIBER DE COQUINA

> LIVRE TOSCAN

> LIVRE VENITIEN

> TRACTATUS DE MODO PREPARANDI ET CONDIENDI

> THE FORME OF CURY

 

In FoC it appears in the recipe for Hippocras.

 

  From Forme of Cury:

PUR FAIT YPOCRAS. XX.IX. XI. Treys Unces de canett. & iii unces de

gyngeuer. spykenard de Spayn le pays dun denerer, garyngale. clowes,

gylofre. poeurer long, noiez mugadez. maziozame cardemonij de chescun

i. quart' douce grayne & de paradys stour de queynel de chescun dim

unce de toutes, soit fait powdour &c.

 

- Doc

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

   Edouard Halidai  (Daniel Myers)

   http://www.medievalcookery.com/

 

 

Date: Sun, 7 Mar 2004 08:43:23 -0600

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Cardamom?

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

There was a lively discussion on whether or not grains of paradise and cardamom were used for both Amomum meleguetta and Elettaria cardamomium.  I think you will find it in the spice section of the Florilegium under   grains of paradise.

 

The OED states that cardamum has used to describe both and also includes other members of both genera, but that the only cardamom included in the British pharmacopocia is Malabar cardomom (E. cardamomium).  The word appears in an English medical text as early as 1398 and is definitely identified as a spice in 1553.

 

Quoting the OED, "1579 Langham "Gard. Health" (1633) 122 Cardamom, or Graines of Paradise, are good to be drunke against the falling   sickness." That suggests an equivalence (if not a sameness) in usage.

 

It may be you are looking at the wrong sources to find cardamom in   recipes. Since cardamom appears to be used more in traditional Scandinavian   cooking than other parts of Europe, it might be interesting to see if the spice appears in "Kogebog."

 

Bear

 

> I was wondering whether anyone has found SCA-period European recipes

> that call for cardamom. While I have found SCAdians' "redactions"

> that use it, especially in spice blends, I can't think of any period

> European recipes that actually call for cardamom.

>

> I'm just curious, because there are so many other Asian spices that

> were used in Europe that are no longer, such as long pepper,

> galangal, and grains of paradise. Why not cardamom?

>

> Anahita

 

 

Date: Thu, 11 Mar 2004 12:04:36 -0500

From: AEllin Olafs dotter <aellin at earthlink.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Cardamom?

o: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

lilinah at earthlink.net wrote:

> I was wondering whether anyone has found SC-period European recipes

> that call for cardamom. While I have found SCAdians' "redactions" that

> use it, especially in spice blends, I can't think of any period

> European recipes that actually call for cardamom.

>

> I'm just curious, because there areso many other Asian spices that

> were used in Europe that are no longer, such as long pepper, galangal,

> and grains of paradise. Why not cardamom?

>

> Anahita

 

I've been working with the Libellus de Arte Coquinaria.If you recall,

this is a collection of Northern European manuscripts that are clearly

copies/translations of a single original text, which itself is lost. It

is believed that the original was from Southern Europe, though we don’t

know where, but it clearl was used in the North. The extant copies are

in Danish, Icelandic, and German, and have enough variation that they've

been through several versions.

 

Out of the 39 recipes (with variations) I found 2 with cardamom. Each is

in 3 of the 4 manuscripts.

 

K6 the editors consider K the base text) is A Sauce for Lords.

 

“One takes cloves and nutmeg, cardamon (sic), pepper, cinnamon – that is

canel – and ginger

  “

 

The Danish is “cardomomum.”

 

Q, the other Danish text, leaves cardamom out of the same recipe, Q5

though it is otherwise the same. D6, the Icelandic, and W59, the Low

German, are essentially the same as K6, including “cardemomium” and

“cardemomen.”

 

K23 is Another Way of Preparing Chickens. It tells you to “grind pepper

and cinnamon and cardamon” - “ardemomum, “ as does D20. Q25 tells us to

take the same spices ground. (“Kard(ae)momum” in the Icelandic.) There

is no version of this recipe in the Low German Ms.

 

Long way of saying Yes, Anahita, cardamom is used in actual Medieval

recipes! And in Scandnavia, at that.

 

BTW, the editors spell it "cardamon" throughout, though I've always used

the spelling "cardamom" as we have in this thread. Don't know what

that's about.

 

AEllin

 

<the end>



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