Musk Uses, Benefits & Dosage

FR: Musc GER: Moschus IT: Musio or Muschio SP: Almizclena ILL: Plate 3, No. 6

One may sometimes read of exotic dishes such as this one given by the Persian poet Firdosi: young calf seasoned with rosewater, old wine, and pure musk’. This sounds like ‘recipes for an odalisk’, but in fact musk with rosewater was also in common use in English and French kitchens at the time of Shakespeare and used to flavour pates, pies and creams. Musk comes from the abdominal scent glands of the male musk deer, a small tusked deer of the Himalayas and other Asian mountains (and sometimes other species of deer). The scent of pure musk is so strong that it causes a headache, and so persistent that the beautiful Hagia Sophia in Istanbul still smells of the musk which was mixed with the mortar when it was built more than a thousand years ago. There are also synthetic musks and musk-scented plants, but these are not the musks of old recipes.

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Ambrette FR: Ambrette GER: Ablemosch IT: Ambretta

SP: Abelmosco, Quimbombo ambrette or abel-musk seeds (Hibiscus abelmoschus), a substitute for musk used sometimes in the East for flavouring coffee, and which will no doubt be preferred to animal musk by those who wish to use this flavour in cooking. Tastes and smells are often described as ‘musky’ when they really have little in common with the real musk (octopus and angelica are examples).

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