Nutmeg, the Taste of Joy

Joy! What could be better? But where can you find real joy and happiness? Often people substitute joy and happiness with an endless pursuit of momentary pleasures. However, sometimes it is great to pique your senses with new tastes. Spices can give not only the taste to dishes but also the taste for life! But why is the road to happiness often strewn with pain and sorrow? Nutmeg, a harmless spice that is added to many dishes, both in cooking and in baking, can actually be very dangerous and cause an overdose if consumed in high quantities. Nutmeg is known to have been a prized and costly spice in European medieval cuisine. The sale of nutmeg and other spices was often difficult over the years. To maintain high prices, the already collected spices were destroyed. Once in Amsterdam, more than four thousand tons of nutmegs, cinnamon, and cloves were burned. Yellow smoke hung over the city for a long time, exuding a delicate aroma to almost all of Holland. 

So what is nutmeg? Some, consider nutmeg an exquisite spice, others a medicinal product, and some claim that it is hallucinogenic and poisonous. Amazingly, they are all right! Nutmeg is a seed or ground spice of several species of the genus Myrīstica, a type of evergreen tree of the Muscatnikov family. Nutmeg is the seed, the core of the bony part of the fruit of the nutmeg tree. In one year, the plant can produce more than 10 thousand fruits. They resemble large apricot in color and size. When fully ripened, the fruits burst in half. The nut itself is nothing more than a seed inside the seed, and to separate the seed, it is first dried in the sun and then peeled. The nut is oval in shape 2-3 cm long and 1.5-2 cm wide. 

Nutmeg spice is widely used in all different types of culinary dishes: salads, home-made and industrial sausages, main dishes, meat, seafood, desserts, pastries, teas, coffee.

Two varieties of nutmeg are known – Indonesian and Grenadian. Indonesian nutmeg has a bright orange color, a high concentration of essential oils, a deep rich sweet-spicy taste and, accordingly, a higher price. Indonesia is the leader in the production of this spice and Indonesian chefs even use the pulp of the fruit of the nutmeg tree, which makes a delicious jam.

The British began to grow Grenadian nuts from the 18th century on the island of Grenada. The nutmeg from Grenada has yellow skin, a mild flavor, and a more affordable price.

Nutmeg is amazingly combined with pumpkin, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, leeks, and spinach, with baked fruits and berry puree, it is often used to preserve mushrooms and vegetables. In Italian cuisine, pasta with Bologna sauce or bechamel sauce is very popular.

Joy, of course, depends not only on what we eat but on our mood and desire to notice the beauty in life. And spices can help us with that.