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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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nutmeg one of the two spices obtained from the nutmeg tree, Myristica fragrans; the other is mace. The tree is native to the Moluccas in Indonesia, and is also cultivated in Grenada in the W. Indies. The fruit which encloses the mace and nutmeg is itself edible; see nutmeg fruit.

There is no record of nutmeg being known in classical Greece or Rome, but it had reached Constantinople by the 9th century ad, when St Theodore the Studite allowed the monks who lived by his Rule to sprinkle it on their pease pudding on non-meat days. By the 12th century it and mace were well known in Europe. When the Portuguese reached the Moluccas in 1514 they were able to acquire a monopoly in the trade, which they held for almost a century.