“Anyone who gives you a cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven is a friend for life” — Daniel Handler
The pungent aroma of cinnamon is unmistakeable, usually evoking dreams; with apple pie, doughnuts, candies and Christmas cake being beautiful reminders of our youth. It was once such a highly prized spice that wars were fought over it and it was used as a currency.
Native to Sri Lanka; cinnamon dates back to in Chinese writings to 2800 B.C. and is still known as kwai in the Cantonese language today. Its botanical name derives from the Hebraic and Arabic term amomon, meaning ‘fragrant spice plant.” From their word for cannon, Italians called it canella, meaning “little tube,” which aptly describes cinnamon sticks.
Cinnamon’s odour profile is sweet and bitter, hot and sensuous; often boasting its aphrodisiacal prowess. Cinnamon was used as a highly prized spice in the Old Testament; where perfumers would blend spices to create anointing oil.
Ancient Egyptians used cinnamon in their embalming process. The spice was also valued for its preservative qualities for meat due to the phenols which inhibit the bacteria responsible for spoilage, with the added bonus being the strong cinnamon aroma masked the stench of aged meats.
Medieval physicians used cinnamon in medicines to treat what we would today regard as the common cold. Nero the Roman Emperor murdered his wife and as a sign of remorse, he ordered a year’s supply of sacrificial cinnamon to be burnt.
Today the medicinal value of cinnamon is astounding. Continued studies show that cinnamon contains anti-microbial and anti-clotting properties, inhibit the development of Alzheimer’s disease, stabilize blood sugar and improve diabetes.