What is the historical background of Middle Eastern food ingredients?

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ako6777 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1.)  Cumin- this spice is native to Syria. It was originally cultivated in Iran and the Mediterranean region.  Cumin seeds have been found in some ancient Syrian and Egyptian archaeological sites. 

"Superstition during the Middle Ages cited that cumin kept chickens and lovers from wandering. It was also believed that a happy life awaited the bride and groom who carried cumin seed throughout the wedding ceremony."

2.)  Nutmeg-is the actual seed of an evergreen tree.  Nutmeg is native to Indonesia, India, Malaysia, and the Carribean. 

"In Elizabethan times it was believed that nutmeg could ward off the plague, so nutmeg was very popular."

3.)  Cardamom-is native to India, Malaysia, Asia, and Australia. 

"Green cardamom in South Asia is broadly used to treat infections in teeth and gums, to prevent and treat throat troubles, congestion of the lungs and pulmonary tuberculosis, inflammation of eyelids and also digestive disorders. It also is used to break up kidney stones and gall stones, and was reportedly used as an antidote for both snake and scorpion venom.

4.)  Turmeric-is native to tropical South East Asia. In medieval Europe, turmeric became known as Indian Saffron, since it was widely used as an alternative to the far more expensive spice.

"In Ayurvedic practices, turmeric has many medicinal properties and many in South Asia use it as a readily available antiseptic for cuts, burns and bruises. It is also used as an antibacterial agent."