Columbian Exchange Food/Ingredient Project
By: Aaron Poulin
What is the origin of your food/ingredient?
Cinnamon originates from the islands of Shri Lanka (formerly called Ceylon), southeast of India. It is also native to southwest of India and the Tenasserin Hills of Burma. Cinnamon is part of the Lauraceous, a branch of the Laurel family of spices.
Although there have been many versions of cinnamon with stews, desserts, and everyday food, I am focusing on cinnamon buns, also known as sticky buns, a delicious by-product of cinnamon and bread rolls combined. Both cinnamon and bread rolls are ancient foods, but when did they first combine? According to early spice historians, the history of cinnamon is unclear. Dr. Ronald Wirtz (American Institute of Baking) has researched sticky buns in depth. He begins with the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Wirtz believes that our modern sticky bun owes some of its origins to British cooking and baking, perhaps with some degree of influence from the Dutch and Germans. The cinnamon bun or sticky bun came to Philadelphia with 18th century English and German immigrants. The cinnamon buns that reached Philadelphia were composed of cinnamon, sugar flavored yeast dough, with raisons, buts, and caramelized topping. They are now very popular in the United States and some parts of England.
Why is this crop/ingredient historically important?
Cinnamon buns played a historic role in Europe mostly, originating from central Europe; they formed as a tasty treat for higher-class people. Because cinnamon was hard to harvest and only grew parts of Asia and the Middle East it was hard to transport and therefore made it pretty expensive. Many myths surrounded cinnamon and how people harvested it. The source of cinnamon was unknown in the middle ages; it was thought that the Arabs supplied people with cinnamon. It was said that giant cinnamon birds collected the sticks from an unknown land...
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