Lively up your shelf! A well-travelled spice

Zingiber officinale

Ginger is a spice (also, former spice girl and one of the shipwrecked on Gilligan’s island) that has made its way around the world. It is believed to have originated in India (or China according to some sources) and with trade and empire-building has travelled from the Orient to Greece then Rome and Britain. It was brought to West Africa by the Portuguese, to East Africa by the Arabs and to Mexico and the West Indies by the Spanish. Ginger is now found in several cuisines around the world. These days and at this time of year you are likely to see it in various baked gingerbread creations.

Ginger is obtained from the rhizome, or root, of a flowering plant and it is through the rhizome that the plant is propagated. For more on one of my favourite spices, check out the Weal Food archives:



Lively Up Your Shelf! Barking up the Wrong Tree

Cinnamon is commonly used this time of year in Canada. It is the ubiquitous spice found in pumpkin and apple pie and its sweet and warming tones are ideally suited for comforting fall weather foods. But did you know…

most cinnamon sold commercially in Canada and the US is not actually cinnamon but cassia? The former is usually sold under the name ‘true cinnamon’ and the latter is often sold under the name Saigon/Vietnamese Saigon cinnamon.

True cinnamon 

origin: Sri Lanka (formerly named Ceylon)

botanical name: cinnamomum zeylanicum 


  • It is an evergreen tree that is part of the Laurel family.
  • It indigenous to Sri Lanka.
  • The inner bark is stripped away, laid out to dry at which point it curls up into quills. These are packed like Russian nesting dolls, one inside the other, to form sticks and sold as is or in ground form.
  • Popular uses: in savoury dishes and meat sauces during the Middle Ages and in spice blends in Eastern countries eg ras el hanout (Morocco), berbere (Ethiopia), curry (India). In the West, it is most often used in sweet dishes.
  • The Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Portuguese, Dutch and British all vied for trade in cinnamon.
  • It is true cinnamon that is recommended for its effect on blood sugar regulation.  Check out this post from Healthline for its other health benefits.


origin: Myanmar (formerly called Burma)

botanical name: cinnamomum cassia 


  • It is an evergreen tree, sometimes called bastard cinnamon, and processed the same way as cinnamon.
  • It is cheaper and easier to produce than true cinnamon.
  • Cassia is much more pungent than true cinnamon and therefore favoured in baking for its strong aroma and taste.
  • Cassia contains a significant amount of coumarin, a chemical compound that may cause liver damage in certain individuals when taken in high doses.



Around the World in 80 Bites – Bite 25

Bite 25 – Bread

Man cannot live on bread alone but Kimberley can. I love bread! No matter where I go in the world nor what type of cuisine I encounter there is always some sort of bread. It’s the one thing that every culture has in culinary common.

quick, yeasted, un/leavened, flat, loaf, buns, rustic, sourdough, enriched, artisan, plain 

And the bread beat goes on…

Bread is the one food I have been eating my whole life and have never tired of it. I have now earned my artisan bread baking certificate and continue to put it to good and regular use. Occasionally I am without my daily bread but too long without and all is not right in my world. Bread is the staff of my life.