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Allspice

Cooking isn’t really my thing. I didn’t learn much cooking when I grew up. Living in Bangkok also means that you can easily get away with not cooking. (It’s even questionable whether cooking for one would actually save you money, since you don’t get any economy of scale. You don’t even get a functional kitchen in a lower-end apartment.) So food ingredients are often part of my knowledge gap. (Not to mention that I won’t be familiar with lots of vegetables and spices used in European cuisines.)

The other day I was looking for a Finnish salmon soup (lohikeitto) recipe in English, when I saw that a recipe calls for ‘allspice’. Naturally, I had no idea what it was, so I thought it was some kind of spice mix, like the five-spice powder or something. So I looked into another version of the recipe, to find one where it’s not needed. (Those spice mixes aren’t always available everywhere, right?)

Then I learnt that allspice is actually spice from a specific plant.

Allspice […] is the dried unripe fruit (berries, used as a spice) of Pimenta dioica, a midcanopy tree native to the Greater Antilles, southern Mexico, and Central America, now cultivated in many warm parts of the world. The name ‘allspice’ was coined as early as 1621 by the English, who thought it combined the flavour of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

– ‘Allspice‘, Wikipedia. (2016-05-11)

Interestingly (I guess?), the Dutch name for it (which I had to look up) is piment. I had seen it before when I was looking through the spice shelves at Albert Heijn, but I only recognised the word from French, in which it means (chilli) pepper. The French words for it, according to the French-language Wikipedia, are piment de la Jamaïque, poivre de la Jamaïque, or quatre-épices.

On a related note, I am pretty sure I had seen/heard the Finnish word for it, maustepippuri, although now I’m not sure why it came up.

Published in lang:English My Life