Warming, spicy and stimulating
This ancient spice comes from the inner bark of a tropical, evergreen species of the Laurel family. It is native to India and Sri Lanka and different to cassia or Chinese cinnamon.
The familiar cinnamon quills are prepared from bark, stripped from the tree's shoots. The outer bark is stripped away, leaving the inner bark to dry out and curl.
In ancient Egypt, the demand for cinnamon and black pepper helped to begin the ancient spice trade, and thus, greater exploration of the world. By the first century A.D., cinnamon was being transported 4500 miles across the sea from Malaysia and Indonesia to the Red Sea. It was highly valued by many and used as a perfume, medicine, preservative and flavouring spice. Cinnamon quills, according to legend, were used to make the nest of the mythical phoenix. The birds carried them to high mountain precipices and as the quills fell to the ground, they were collected and sold.
Today, cinnamon is used as flavouring for foods, including pickles, cakes, sweets, cola-type soft drinks, ice cream and liqueurs. It has also found its way into oral hygiene products and cosmetics. Cinnamon has a fragrant, spicy, intensely warming and slightly sweet flavour.
A good cleansing herb, it also has powerful antiseptic properties. Its sensual aroma has been proven to have an aphrodisiac effect when used in baked cinnamon rolls! Finely grinding the quills gives us the rich cinnamon powder.