Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Cumin Seeds: History

Food History
Scientific name for Cumin seed is Cuminum cyminum
Common names: Cumin Seed; Comino

Cumin has a history over 5000 years old. It is a native of Egypt, and was used during the time of the Pharaohs not only as a food spice but also to mummify the deceased kings.

From there it was carried to Greece and Rome, who used it both as a medicine and as a cosmetic to induce a pale complexion.

According to a rather humorous anecdote about this particular effect of cumin, students in ancient Greece and Rome would drink large quantities of cumin oil to induce a pallid complexion that was regarded as the mark of a great scholar! The student would become pale and therefore, appear to have studied late into the night.

Cumin was used by the Romans in place of the more expensive, and sometimes unavailable, pepper. It was so abundant that Christians used it as their tithe when they had no money.

Cumin also finds mention in the Bible, as a form of "tithe" or payment given to priests.

The Saxons first used Cumin in more culinary ways by spreading it on hens and peacocks before cooking.
Food History