Nutty For Nutmeg

Nov 27 2012 @ 9:25am

The colonial powers certainly were, explains Allison Aubrey, leading to many blood confrontations over control of the spice:

So, why was nutmeg so valuable? … It was fashionable among the wealthy. It was exotic and potent enough to induce hallucinations — or at least a nutmeg bender, as detailed in this account from The Atlantic. "Nutmeg really does have chemical constituents that make you feel good," explains culinary historian Kathleen Wall of the Plimoth Plantation.

How the nutmeg wars wound down:

In the 1600s, "the Dutch and the British were kind of shadowing each other all over the globe," explains Cornell historian Eric Tagliacozzo. They were competing for territory and control of the spice trade. In 1667, after years of battling, they sat down to hash out a treaty.

"Both had something that the other wanted," explains [culinary historian Michael] Krondl. The British wanted to hold onto Manhattan, which they'd managed to gain control of a few years earlier. And the Dutch wanted the last nutmeg-producing island that the British controlled, as well as territory in South America that produced sugar. "So they [the Dutch] traded Manhattan, which wasn't so important in those days, to get nutmeg and sugar."

Previous Dish on nutmeg as reacreational drug here.