Bright lights, big city. The quintessential description of the island of Manhattan, New York. And yet, when you think of the city that never sleeps, nutmeg is probably the last thing that comes to mind.
But if you love Manhattan, you should really be thanking nutmeg; without this earthy spice, what’s considered the greatest city on earth (in my opinion anyway) wouldn’t be what it is now.
In the late 1600s, nutmeg was THE spice to be seen garnishing your hot milk with, and the Dutch were crazy good at being the only suppliers of nutmeg in the whole world. Nutmeg in the 1600s is what tumeric is to lattes in 2016; the only spice for the social elite and fashion-forward gastronomers. And the Dutch made a pretty penny with their nutmeg trade; they were so adamant about their monopoly of the spice, that they would dip it in lime so it wouldn’t sprout, preventing anyone from being able to grow their own nutmeg.
Asides from areas in South American and the Caribbean, and little island known as New Amsterdam was a great source of nutmeg. And it was under Dutch control so they were pretty chill knowing they had New Amsterdam at their dispense to keep up with the nutmeg demands. But then the British came in to take the land (for reasons un-related to nutmeg) and the Dutch were pissed, so there was some fighting and after 3 bloody years, they decided to come to an agreement. The British gave up Run in exchange for the Big Apple. And the Dutch were cool because Run had even more nutmeg than New Amsterdam, and the best bit – it had sugar too (do you think the Dutch knew these would make an awesome combo?).
And by trading it to the British, some of the most significant moments in American history had been set in motion.
So essentially, what I’m trying to say is that the city that never sleeps came to be because the Dutch traded it off for more nutmeg.
Asides from having a pretty cool histroy, nutmeg is really good for you too. Otherwise I wouldn’t be wasting your time with its nutty story. The effects of nutmeg on the body can be pretty surprising:
1. Adding it to warm milk isn’t just to give that warm and fuzzy feeling before bed – nutmeg is a great sleep aid and will help you fall and stay asleep like a champion.
2. Its soothing on your digestive system and a natural healer for any digestive issues. Need I say more?
3. Its been linked with improving brain function and keeps you thinking sharp. It can also help prevent degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia later in life.
4. Got pimple problems? Mixing nutmeg and a splash of milk is a time and tested treatment for skin problems too.
Ready to know how to buy it? Use it? Live on it? Continue my friend, as I have all the answers…
A small bit of nutmeg can go a really long way, so use sparingly. If you can get whole nutmeg, do it. It will last you years and taste far superior to powdered. All you need to do is grate it on a microplane whenever it’s time to get your nutmeg on. Powdered nutmeg is best when fresh, and will loose most of it’s aroma and flavour after 6 months.
Here are some recipes that make nutmeg the unexpected hero;
So next time you’re trading your hard earned cash for some nutmeg, spare a thought for the Dutch who were willing to trade countries for that tasty nutmeg goodness. And be thankful they did – or else we’d be singing New Amsterdam, New Amsterdam (and that doesn’t really have the same ring to it as the original).
Got an even better nutmeg story? I dare you to share it in the comments!