Evidence suggests it was used throughout the ancient world, and that Arab traders brought it to Europe, where it proved popular. Legend holds that the Roman emperor Nero burned as much as he could find of the precious spice on the funeral pyre of his second wife Poppaea Sabina in A.D. 65 to atone for his role in her death.
The Arabs transported cinnamon in cumbersome land routes, resulting in a limited, expensive supply that made the use of cinnamon a status symbol in Europe in the Middle Ages. As the middle class began to seek upward mobility, they wanted to purchase the goods that were once only available to noble classes. Cinnamon was particularly desirable as it could be used as a preservative for meats during the winter. Despite its widespread use, the origins of cinnamon was the Arab merchants’ best kept secret until the early 16th century. To maintain their monopoly on the cinnamon trade and justify its exorbitant price, Arab traders wove colorful tales for their buyers about where and how they obtained the luxury spice. One such story, related by the 5th century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus, said that enormous birds carried the cinnamon sticks to their nests perched high atop mountains that were insurmountable by any human. According to the story, people would leave large pieces of ox meat below these nests for the birds to collect. When the birds brought the meat into the nest, its weight would cause the nests to fall to the ground, allowing the cinnamon sticks stored within to be collected. Another tall tale reported that the cinnamon was found in deep canyons guarded by terrifying snakes, and first century Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder proposed that cinnamon came from Ethiopia, carried on rafts with no oars or sails, powered by “man alone and his courage.”
Struggling to meet increasing demand, European explorers set out to find the spice’s mysterious source. Christopher Columbus wrote to Queen Isabella, claiming he had found cinnamon and rhubarb in the New World, but when he sent samples of his findings back home, it was discovered that the spice was not, in fact, the coveted cinnamon. Gonzalo Pizarro, a Spanish explorer, also sought cinnamon in the Americas, traversing the Amazon hoping to find the “cinnamon country.”
Today, we typically encounter two types of commercial cinnamon, Ceylon and Cassia cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is primarily produced in Indonesia and has the stronger smell and flavor of the two varieties. This cheaper variety is what we usually buy in grocery stores to sprinkle on our apple pies or French toast. The more expensive Ceylon cinnamon, most of which is still produced in Sri Lanka, has a milder, sweeter flavor popular for both baking and flavoring hot drinks such as hot chocolate.
Research Source: History
There is nothing more all American than an apple pie baking in the oven. The flavors of this easy, apple pie recipe will tempt your family. You can have this apple pie less than 20 minutes.
Mini Apple Pies
Copyrighted 2014, Christine’s Pantry. All rights reserved.
1 (16 ounce) can jumbo buttermilk biscuits
1 (21 ounce) can apple pie filling
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Remove biscuits from can, lightly flour biscuits and roll each one out to 5 inch rounds. Fit the circles of biscuits into muffin tin, pressing the center down first, and then fitting the biscuits in so that it is in full contact with the sides of the muffin cups.
In a bowl, add apple pie. Using a butter knife, slice apples into smaller pieces, so that it will fit more easily into the mini biscuits. Add cinnamon and sugar, stir well. Fill the biscuits up to the top.
Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, until golden brown and the biscuits look done. Enjoy!