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Kallie Szczepanski

Nutmeg: Unsavory Secret History of a Spice

By December 24, 2012

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A nutmeg in Zanzibar, Tanzania

In my home, 'tis the season for lovely spicy treats, such as eggnog, pumpkin pie, and spice cake. One of the key ingredients? Nutmeg.

This seemingly-innocent spice, however, has a surprisingly unsavory history. When the Portuguese, Dutch, and British were fighting over the Spice Islands of what is now Indonesia, nutmeg was one of their major motivations. Who would have thought that a simple spice could inspire war and genocide?

Photo by Bruno Morandi / Getty Images.


January 1, 2013 at 2:28 am
(1) Sikandera Mir says:

Its just that I have been reading a book called Nathaniel’s Nutmeg by Giles Milton… and was surprised to read some facts about the acquiring of nutmeg. It was a spice race and a few western nations struggled so hard to bring nutmeg back tot heir countries. It helped keep away diseases, the book says and it became the source of the Dutch and English colonies in the Eastern world. If the British and Dutch and Portuguese did not enter the spice race, our Indian subcontinent would have been a different. Perhaps more peaceful and calm and living a life of ignorance and thus, Bliss. the cruelties which took place in acquiring the nutmeg and the clove and other such aromatic and medicinal spices shock me, the reader of the book.

Thanks for you page. I enjoy it.

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