It is semisolid, reddish-brown in colour, and has the taste and smell of nutmeg itself. The earliest known usage of nutmeg is on the island of Pulau Ai around 3, years ago based on residue found on ceramic potsherds. Until the midth century, the small island group of the Banda Islands , which are also known under the name "Spice Islands," was the only location of the production of nutmeg and mace in the world.
The Banda Islands are situated in the eastern part of Indonesia, in the province of Maluku. Nutmeg is known to have been a prized and costly spice in European medieval cuisine as a flavouring, medicinal, and preservative agent. Saint Theodore the Studite c. In Elizabethan times, because nutmeg was believed to ward off the plague, demand increased and its price skyrocketed.
Nutmeg was known as a valuable commodity by Muslim sailors from the port of Basra including the fictional character Sinbad the Sailor in the One Thousand and One Nights.
Nutmeg was traded by Arabs during the Middle Ages and sold to the Venetians for high prices, but the traders did not divulge the exact location of their source in the profitable Indian Ocean trade , and no European was able to deduce its location. The Banda Islands became the scene of the earliest European ventures in Asia, in order to get a grip on the spice trade.
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In August , Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Malacca , which at the time was the hub of Asian trade, on behalf of the king of Portugal. Malay pilots, either recruited or forcibly conscripted, guided them via Java , the Lesser Sundas , and Ambon to the Banda Islands, arriving in early Full control of this trade by the Portuguese was not possible, and they remained participants without a foothold in the islands. In order to obtain a monopoly on the production and trade of nutmeg, the Dutch East India Company VOC waged a bloody battle with the Bandanese in Historian Willard Hanna estimated that before this struggle the islands were populated by approximately 15, people, and only 1, were left the Bandanese were killed, starved while fleeing, exiled or sold as slaves.
It included the nutmeg plantations for spice production, several forts for the defense of the spices, and a colonial town for trading and governance. The Dutch were not the only occupants of this region, however. The British skilfully negotiated with the village leaders on the island Rhun to protect them from the Dutch in exchange for a monopoly on their nutmeg.
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The village leader of Rhun accepted King James I of England as their sovereign, but the English presence on Rhun only lasted until As a result of the Dutch interregnum during the Napoleonic Wars , the British temporarily took control of the Banda Islands from the Dutch and transplanted nutmeg trees, complete with soil, to Sri Lanka , Penang, Bencoolen , and Singapore. The national flag of Grenada , adopted in , shows a stylised split-open nutmeg fruit.
It has been suggested that Connecticut received its nickname "the Nutmeg State", " Nutmegger " from the claim that some unscrupulous Connecticut traders would whittle "nutmeg" out of wood, creating a "wooden nutmeg", a term which later came to mean any type of fraud. World production of nutmeg is estimated to average between 10, and 12, tonnes per year, with annual world demand estimated at over 9, tonnes; production of mace is estimated at 1, to 2, tonnes.
Other producers include India, Malaysia especially Penang, where the trees grow wild within untamed areas [ citation needed ] , Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, and Caribbean islands such as St. Singapore and the Netherlands are major re-exporters.
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In the 19th century, nutmeg was thought to be an abortifacient , which led to numerous recorded cases of nutmeg poisoning. In low doses, nutmeg produces no noticeable physiological or neurological response, but in large doses, both raw nutmeg freshly ground from kernels, as well as nutmeg oil , have psychoactive effects,    which appear to derive from anticholinergic -like hallucinogenic mechanisms attributed to myristicin and elemicin. Varying considerably from person to person, nutmeg intoxication may occur with side effects , such as delirium , anxiety, confusion, headaches, nausea, dizziness, dry mouth, eye irritation, or amnesia.
Although rarely reported, nutmeg overdose can result in death, especially if combined with other drugs. Nutmeg was once considered an abortifacient , but may be safe for culinary use during pregnancy if used only in flavoring amounts. While the spicy scent of nutmeg may be attractive to pets, there is potential for toxicity if large amounts are consumed. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the spice. For other uses, see Nutmeg disambiguation. Red aril and seed within fruit.
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