Saturday, June 4, 2016

A. V. Koshy writes

An Epic on Childhood -16 - The Jathikka Tree

after i got you
fresh green-yellow
from your mother
and broke you in two:
those red bands
against the black of the big seed
hid in tasty flesh
the memory of which
makes me
want to
relive my childhood

The Nutmeg Princess -- John Benjamin

1 comment:

  1. Jathikka is the tree that bears nutmeg and mace, derived from several species of tree in the genus Myristica. It is native to the Banda Islands (the "Spice Islands")in the Moluccas, Indonesia, and until the mid-19th century that was the only source, but now is also cultivated elsewhere, such as Kerala, an Indian state once known as Malabar. Nutmeg is the seed, mace is the seed's dried "lacy" reddish covering (aril). They both have similar sensory qualities, but nutmeg is slightly sweeter and is generally used for flavoring, usually in ground or grated form; In Kerala, it is considered medicinal, and the flesh is made into juice, pickles, and chutney, while grated nutmeg is used in meat preparations; it is also smoked in India. After extraction of the essential oil, the remaining seed ("spent")is often mixed with pure nutmeg in industrial mills, since the high percentage of oil makes it difficult to mill, and ground nutmeg with some spent in it is also less likely to clot. Mace has a more delicate flavor and is often added to light dishes due to the bright orange, saffron-like hue it imparts. Several other commercial products are also produced from the trees, including essential oils, extracted oleoresins, and nutmeg butter. Freshly ground whole nutmegs contain myristicin, a psychoactive substance. In 1829, the Czech physiologist Jan Evangelista Purkinje ingested three ground nutmegs with a glass of wine and recorded headaches, nausea, hallucinations, and a sense of euphoria that lasted for several days; Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, who discovered LSD, and Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes documented nutmeg usage as an intoxicant by students, prisoners, sailors, alcoholics, and marijuana smokers. Nutmeg was a costly spice in medieval Europe, and Muslim sailors from Basra traded it to the Venetians. But in August 1511, Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Malacca for Portugal and in November sent António de Abreu to find Banda. But the Portuguese were never able to dominate the trade. In 1621, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) waged war against the Bandanese, who were exterminated, starved, exiled, or sold as slaves; out of 15,00 inhabitants of the islands, only 1,000 were left. The VOC then constructed a comprehensive nutmeg production system, including plantations, forts, and a colonial town for trading and governance. The British countered by negotiating with the leaders on Rhun, one of the Banda islands; in exchange for protection against the Dutch, Rhun granted a nutmeg monopoly and accepted the sovereignty of James I, making the island England's first Asian colony. In the Treaty of Breda (1667), the British traded island for island, exchanging Rhun for Manhattan. During the Napoleonic Wars, the British took temporary control of the Bandas on behalf of the Dutch and used the opportunity to transplant trees (and soil) to British possessions in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Penang, Bencoolen, and Singapore, and from there to other British colonies such as Zanzibar and Grenada.


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