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Spice – The Final Frontier: What Spice Is One of the World’s Oldest Cultivated Crops and is Featured in Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Buddhist Texts?

October 4, 2012
By

 

If you answered the humble mustard seed you are correct.

 

The earliest reference is from India in the fifth century BCE in a story Buddha told of a mother grieving for her dead son. The woman brought her son’s body to Buddha and asked him for a cure. Buddha tells the mother that first she needs to bring him a handful of mustard seeds from the household of a family who has never lost a child, parent, sibling, or friend. The mother of course cannot find such a household and realizes the universality of death and that she shares her grief with all.

In the Koran the mustard seed is used to describe the efficiency of God on the day of reckoning: even the equivalent of a mustard seed will be accounted for.

In the new testament, Jesus uses the mustard seed in a parable to describe the kingdom of God, which starts small like a mustard seed, but grows to be the biggest of all garden plants.

A Jewish text encouraging humility, compares what we know about the universe to the size of a mustard seed.

Mustard seeds were used in ancient Greece and Rome as a medicine and flavoring, and at least by 800 AD the French were grinding the seeds and adding vinegar to make a sauce to enhance their meals. The smooth condiment as we know it today, however, didn’t appear on the scene until around 1720. A Mrs. Clement of Durham England made a fortune when she invented a process for finely milled dry mustard “flour.” Water was then added to this tasteless, odorless powder, releasing its heat and pungent flavor and making a smooth paste.

When cooking with the condiment, remember it’s pungent taste softens pleasantly while it cooks. While you wouldn’t serve mustard on its own with something as mild in flavor as chicken, cooking it with mustard works quite well. A great example is the popular dish from that region ofFrance famous for its mustard: Chicken Dijon.

 

 

One Response to Spice – The Final Frontier: What Spice Is One of the World’s Oldest Cultivated Crops and is Featured in Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Buddhist Texts?

  1. jamuller on August 28, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Nice Article Lisa…

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