Ginger, zingiber officinale, is thought to be perhaps the most used plant in the history of mankind. The Sanskrit name for ginger is “vishwa bhesaj,” which means universal medicine. Best known for treating indigestion and nausea, ginger can also act as a decongestant, and can help with poor circulation, arthritis and other cold weather imbalances
The History of Ginger
For over 4000 years, ginger has been used throughout the world as a culinary spice, specifically in India, China, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam. By the ninth century, ginger reached Rome and its use spread quickly to other areas in Europe. It was popular in England as a spice used alongside salt and pepper.
Henry VIII as well as his daughter Elizabeth I, loved ginger. It is said that at state dinners, Elizabeth would give guests a gingerbread man that resembled either the King or her. Gingerbread continues to be a favorite in English villages with each possessing its own special recipe, and unique cookie molds. Germany also took to ginger and gingerbread, but rather than using cookies, they made colorful and creative houses with the treat during the Christmas season.
Here is a sample of how other countries across the globe have used this culinary spice:
- Germany: Carp cooked with gingerbread and ginger snaps
- Japan:Ginger is pickled to make Shoga
- Korean: Kimchi, a popular fermented salad
- India and Thailand: As a key ingredient in curries
- Jamaica: Part of the island’s famous spicy jerk seasoning
- Myanmar (Burma): Uses fresh ginger to mask the odor of fish
- Ginger is also used in many drinks including ginger ale, ginger beer, and ginger tea, and it is added to liquors and coffees as well.