Maidenhair Tree BOT: Ginkgo biloba FAM: Ginkgoaceae ILL: Plate 17, No. 5
The maidenhair tree, a sort of living fossil originating in China and Japan, bears – on the female tree small, foul-smelling, yellow plum-like fruits. The kernel, extracted after the fruit has been rotted off, is the ginkgo nut. This has an individual taste and is used as a flavouring in Chinese and Japanese cooking, as well as being eaten roasted as a nut. It can be obtained from specialist shops.
What is Ginkgo Nut? Photo Gallery
Grains of Paradise
Guinea Grains, Melegueta Pepper
FR: Graines de paradis, Malaguette, Poivre de Guinee
GER: Malagettapfeffer, Paradieskorner
IT: Grani di Meleguetta, Grani di paradiso, Mani guetta
BOT: Aframomum or Amomum melegueta, Amomum granum paradisii FAM: Zingiberaceae
These come from a plant related to cardamom, and are indigenous to the coast and islands of tropical West Africa along the Gulf of Guinea from the Congo to Sierra Leone. Part of this coast was once known as the Melegueta or Pepper Coast. Although it is grown in other tropical areas, most of this spice still comes from Ghana.
The plant grows to about eight feet high, has long leaves and showy yellow orchid-like flowers in dense spikes. The brown seeds are the spice and are formed in the pulp of a sour pear-shaped orange
Grains of paradise are hot and peppery and were formerly much used in cookery as a pepper substitute and spice. They were also used with ginger and cinnamon to flavour the spiced wine known as hippocras. Even today grains of paradise find their greatest use in doctoring wine. (See Cardamom.)
Although grains of paradise are not commonly stocked by grocers, they can be found with some searching from druggists and may be needed by those who enjoy trying very old recipes.