Cumin is native to Egypt and has been cultivated in the Middle East, India, China and Mediterranean countries for millennia. Throughout history, cumin has played an important role as a food and medicine and has been a cultural symbol with varied attributes.
Cumin was mentioned in the Bible not only as a seasoning for soup and bread, but also as a currency used to pay tithes to the priests. In ancient Egypt, cumin was not only used as a culinary spice, it was also an ingredient used to mummify pharaohs.
Cumin seeds were highly honored as a culinary seasoning in both ancient Greek and Roman kitchens. Cumin's popularity was partly due to the fact that its peppery flavor made it a viable replacement for black pepper, which was very expensive and hard to come by. Cumin was also noted for both its medicinal and cosmetic properties. Its application to induce a pallid complexion was frequently employed by many students trying to convince their teachers that they had pulled "all-nighters" studying for their classes.
Although a much prized spice, cumin became a symbol of frugality and greed in ancient Rome. Both Marcus Aurelius and Antoninus Pius, emperors with a reputation for their avarice, were given nicknames that included reference to cumin.
During the Middle Ages in Europe, cumin was one of the most common spices used. Around that time, cumin added another attribute to its repertoire—it became recognized as a symbol of love and fidelity. People carried cumin in their pockets when attending wedding ceremonies, and married soldiers were sent off to war with a loaf of cumin bread baked by their wives.
Cumin's use for fortifying love is also represented in certain Arabic traditions in which a paste of ground cumin, pepper and honey is thought to have aphrodisiac properties.
While it still maintained an important role in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines, the popularity of cumin in Europe declined after the Middle Ages. Today, cumin is experiencing renewed recognition owing to new found appreciation of its culinary and therapeutic properties.
Rainbow Pepper Boats
Copyright 2011 Christine's Pantry. All rights reserved.
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
1 (10.5 oz) can fire roasted tomatoes
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup cooked rice
1 orange bell pepper, cut into half lengthwise
1 red bell pepper, cut into half lengthwise
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into half lengthwise
In large skillet, drizzle extra virgin olive oil, over medium heat. Add ground beef, breaking meat up as it cooks. Cook meat until brown. Spoon off excess grease. Add onions, garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Stir well. Add fire roasted tomatoes. Stir in cooked rice. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Clean bell peppers, remove seeds and cut into half lengthwise. Place bell peppers on baking dish. Spoon meat mixture onto bell peppers. Place bell peppers in oven for 10 minutes. Enjoy!