Why I Love This Blog: Cinnamon Miscellaney
Cinnamon was one of the earliest prized spices. Egyptians used it in embalming, the Romans used it as incense and to flavor wine. Apparently it was not used in cooking. There is no mention of cinnamon as a flavoring agent in the extant recipes of the time.
The Spice Trade grew dramatically after Marco Polo’s explorations in the 13th century and was a prime motivator for the period of exploration that lasted for the next five hundred years. Expensive and prized by medieval cooks, cinnamon became the seasoning for many sweet and savory dishes. At the time it was also regarded as a preservative which contributed to its use and popularity. According to the website www.toptropicals.com only one of Magellan’s ships returned from his exploration but that ship carried 26 tons of spices which were enough to pay for the voyage of all five ships that began in his effort to circumnavigate the earth.
From ancient Chinese herbalists to contemporary practitioners of alternative healing, cinnamon is considered as a useful remedy for various malaises, though no one contests the assertion that the “smell is pleasant, stimulates the senses and calms the nerves” (Wikipedia). The Chinese recommended it as a cure for various intestinal distresses as well as flu. There is some preliminary research that validates the historic assertion that cinnamon can add to the effectiveness of insulin, though no clinical trials support this.
The cinnamon tree is native to
Today most of the “cinnamon” sold is Cassia, a milder version of the original Sri Lankan tree spice. It grows in
Is there any doubt that the most popular use of cinnamon today is in cinnamon rolls (aka sticky buns). The predecessor of the cinnamon roll, then called bun, is medieval in origin, probably in Northern Europe and further developed in
Elizabeth David in her book ENGLISH BREAD AND YEAST COOKERY describes the Chelsea Bun as “Sugary, spicy, sticky and coiled like a Swiss roll…hefty in proposition.” By 1910, the recipe for cinnamon buns called for the sweet dough to be “sheeted out and sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon and currants, rolled up and sliced.” The oversized cinnamon rolls like the ones I make and Cinnabon markets are a relatively recent development.
As a side note the cream cheese frosting that is half the pleasure of the cinnamon roll was not an element of the treat until after 1872 when cream cheese was invented by a dairy farmer in
This blog is a favorite of mine because it helps me rationalize a research boondoggle. I wanted to know if cinnamon rolls could have existed in the Regency. I was pretty sure, but I wasn’t positive. So I started with Google and, as usual and despite a pressing deadline, was carried away into information on cinnamon, the spice trade, alternative medicinal usage, and, yes, the origins of it as one of the definitive taste treats of the 20th century.
What subjects have caught your interest and left you with much more information that you needed? And/or what do you consider to be a definitive taste treat of the 20thcentury?