17 Annotations

First Reading

steve h  •  Link

In an online review (BarnesandNoble.com of "Nathaniel's Nutmeg: Or the True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History" by Giles Milton (1999, Farrar, Straus and Giroux):

'In the early 1600s, spices like nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and pepper were far more valuable than any cinnamon-tasty Apple Jacks consumer would believe. Thought to have the power to cure everything from the plague to flatulence to the common cold, nutmeg was "the most coveted luxury in seventeenth-century Europe, a spice held to have such medicinal properties that men would risk their lives to acquire it."'

chy  •  Link

Nutmeg in more than trace quantities is a medicinial herb that is still used today. It has a more than mild sophoric effect, is slightly anti-histimine, and is a euphoric.

It's also toxic, so I don't recomend trying it without consulting a professional herbalist, but I could see how nutmeg in honey might be helpful to a person without access to a 21st century bathroom medicine cabinet.

Rupert  •  Link

Such was the popularity of nutmeg well into the 18th Century that Dickens carried around a monogrammed nutmeg grater in his waistcoat. The spice was routinely used to flavor adult beverages.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

History: Nutmeg as Medicine

"[T]he monks vaunted nutmeg's ability to prevent sore throats, hemorrhoids, scarlet fever and ailments of the spleen."
* * *
"St. Hildegard, the sibyl of the Rhine, wrote down her medical discoveries in 1147, including the pharmaceutical properties of nutmeg. In this period, popular belief held that getting a nutmeg at New Year and keeping it in your pocket throughout the year would prevent you from breaking even the smallest bone. This popular belief lasted in some form until 1917 and even later in some areas and rural regions."
* * *
"During the Renaissance, nutmeg was still considered a preventive medicine by Western medical authorities but its properties were usually used to treat memory loss, dizziness and blood in the urine." A 16th century monk praised nutmeg oil rubbed on a part of the male anatomy for the same purpose that Viagra is used today.


David Quidnunc  •  Link

History: Nutmeg in Cuisine

"It is astounding to learn how popular these two spices [nutmeg and mace] were in the 15th-17th centuries, especially when compared to how little they are appreciated today. ... [T]he French term for the musk-nut, noix muguette, became the English word nutmeg."
* * *
"In Medieval and Renaissance banquets, exotic spices, including mace and nutmeg, along with the popular cinnamon, were added in large amounts to various dishes. Fashionable French gourmets would bring their own nutmeg graters to add their nutmeg to appropriately improve on a wealthy host's dinner. Such affectations generally disappeared in the 18th century ...
* * *
"Perhaps European nutmeg, which comes from the Moluccan Islands, is of better quality than U.S. nutmegs that are grown in Grenada. Furthermore, ground nutmeg and pulverized mace rapidly lose their volatile oleoresins, and thus only freshly ground specimens are of major gustatory value."


Nigel Foden  •  Link

I have read that nutmeg is a good sleep inducer. Is this correct? Where can capsules be obtained?

Jylaen  •  Link

Size of nutmeg
Most nutmegs are about two to three centimeters long and half that wide and thick. It is the seed found in the fruit of that tropical evergreen: when split open the seed is found covered with a thread like membrane that is dried and ground into mace.

Janiece  •  Link

Is nutmeg a true nut like peanuts, walnuts, pecans that some people are severlly allergic to?

dirk  •  Link


Nutmeg is not a nut, but the seed kernel inside the fruit of the nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans), which is native to Indonesia. It's a spice, once rare and expensive, over which several minor wars were fought between competing countries (Venice, Genoa, the Netherlands, Portugal and England).


Grahamt  •  Link

Aren't several nuts the seed kernels inside fruit?
Almonds certainly are. A nut is defined as "a hard shelled seed", so nutmeg qualifies as a nut.
By the way a peanut is not a true nut, it grows undergound. It is "A legume resembling a nut." (http://open-dictionary.com/)

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

Nutmeg in a nut shell:
Sam's ref: http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1…
'as big as nutmegs'
'......I found did do me much good...
also see wine under muscatel;
the telling feature be its odor
Known to the Romans also known to the Portuguese [1511]as they had fetched it from the spice Islands [Banda Islands] at huge prophit ,it was called Noz moscada.

the Portuguese built a Fort in Oman named Muscat ['place of falling' in Arabic] a good place to refuel their sailors coming and going.
Latin has nux meaning nut or nut tree
Latin has Muscada fem of Muscat musk?
Musca -ae: be fly
Muscus -i : moss
various inputs:
. nut smelling like musk, from Old Proven

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

the rest:Then French, Muscada. Swedish, Muscot. German, Muskatnuss. Arabic, Basbasa. Dutch,
Note Muskaat. Italian, Noce Moscata. Portuguese, Noz-Moscada ...
http://www.everestspices.com/nutm… -
nutmeg "hard aromatic seed of the East Indies," c.1300, from O.N.Fr. or Anglo-Fr. *noiz mugue, from O.Fr. nois muguete, unexplained alt. of nois muscade "nut smelling like musk," from nois "nut" (from L. nux) + L. muscada, fem. of muscat "musky" (see muscat). Probably influenced in Eng. by M.L. nux maga (cf. unaltered Du. muskaatnoot, Ger. muscatnu

Jean  •  Link

I nutmeg a nut or a legume? from someone with severe peanut and nut allergies to extreme.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The National Archives have an amazing selection of old documents, which -- thanks to decades of peace in our time -- they have been able to catalog, translate, photograph and are available to the public.
One they shared on line today gives headache and cold remedies from the 15th century:

It is unclear why these medical recipes are still at The National Archives. Perhaps they were swept up by accident from a sickly medieval clerk’s desk into a chest of documents, and remained there until they were bound into a volume of other medieval documents in the 20th century.

The first remedy to treat a headache calls for a selection of herbs that can be grown in the English countryside. The herbs are mixed together, heated, and then put on the ‘mold’ (crown) of the head. Poultices like this one are a common part of medieval medicine.

The second remedy for ‘stoppyng’ (congestion) in the head and the nose requires the ill person to heat stale ale, mustard seeds and ground nutmeg in a small glass over boiling water, then place cloths over their head and inhale the vapours.

This recipe gives us an insight into medieval trading routes and the surprising global links of 15th-century London. All of the nutmeg in the medieval world was grown in the tiny Banda Islands in what is now Indonesia, more than 8,000 miles away from England. That nutmeg was then traded across the medieval world, often by Venetian merchants. This humble remedy, preserved on a torn piece of paper, shows us how connected the medieval world really was.

See the original at https://beta.nationalarchives.gov…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Nutmeg is the only spice Pepys names during the Diary, apparently, so this book dealing with the wider subject must belong here:

"Spice: The 16th-Century Contest that Shaped the Modern World"
By Roger Crowley
Yale University Press

The story of the 16th-century’s epic contest for the spice trade, which propelled European maritime exploration and conquest across Asia and the Pacific

Spices drove the early modern world economy, and for Europeans they represented riches on an unprecedented scale. Cloves and nutmeg could reach Europe only via a complex web of trade routes, and for decades Spanish and Portuguese explorers competed to find their elusive source. But when the Portuguese finally reached the spice islands of the Moluccas in 1511, they set in motion a fierce competition for control.

Roger Crowley shows how this struggle shaped the modern world. From 1511 to 1571, European powers linked up the oceans, established vast maritime empires, and gave birth to global trade, all in the attempt to control the supply of spices.

Taking us on voyages from the dockyards of Seville to the vastness of the Pacific, the volcanic Spice Islands of Indonesia, the Arctic Circle, and the coasts of China, this is a narrative history rich in vivid eyewitness accounts of the adventures, shipwrecks, and sieges that formed the first colonial encounters — and remade the world economy for centuries to follow.

320 Pages, 155 x 234 mm, 37 b-w + 16 colour illus.+ 7 maps
Published: 14 May 2024
Hardcover: 9780300267471

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.




  • Jul