Ginger, a short history

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Ginger is thought to have originated in the tropical jungles of Southern Asia, probably on the Indian subcontinent. The ginger plant was cultivated there and in China long before its use was recorded.

More than 2000 years ago, ginger was brought from India to the Middle East and from there Arab traders sold it to both the Greeks and the Romans. Records show that ancient Rome taxed ginger when it came ashore at Alexandria. Around the 11th century, Europe rediscovered ginger. By the 14th century, the only spice more popular than ginger was black pepper. It is believed Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) was fond of ginger. She is given the credit for the appearance of the now famous gingerbread men.

As Western Europeans fanned out across the globe, ginger went with them. It is now grown in tropical countries around the world with China and India still the largest exporters. But it is said the world’s finest ginger is grown in Australia and Australian ginger is used in the manufacture of some of Europe’s most exclusive confectionery.