In the Banda Islands, picking, peeling, drying and selling nutmeg to Arab and other traders was an aromatic business for centuries until the Dutch arrived. Nutmeg’s early fans used it more for health than cooking, but today it’s a kitchen staple, used in the West mainly in desserts but elsewhere in both sweet and savory dishes.
The series Spice Migrations opens in Sri Lanka with one of the world’s favorite spices, which once grew exclusively on that island. Traders priced cinnamon like gold, and those who could get it used it for health as much as for flavor. A storm, and a Portuguese fleet, changed everything.