One of the questions we get asked most frequently at The Ginger Peanut is ‘Where did the name come from?’
It is certainly a memorable and catchy name and is derived from the business owners’ nicknames! And so we thought it might be interesting to look at where ginger and peanuts originated from and how and why they grew in popularity to become the widely used crops they are today.
First used by the ancient Chinese, ginger root was originally used as a tonic to treat common ailments. From China, ginger was widely grown in southeast Asia and primarily India. It was during the 1st century when the Romans began trading with India that ginger was brought to the Mediterranean countries and became widely used for its medicinal properties and as a spice. With the fall of the Roman empire, the popularity of the root declined and only regained popularity when Marco Polo brought it back from his travels in medieval times. It was then used to make delicacies and sweets and also as a medicinal tonic to aid digestion. It was highly valued and in the 14th century cost as much as a sheep to buy! The 15th century saw ginger taken to the Caribbean where it grew with ease and became an important crop although India was still the greatest producer. It was in the 18th century when the British Empire included Malaysia that the Red Ginger plant then gave its name to red haired people who were then known as ‘gingers’!
Today ginger is widely used for culinary and medicinal purposes. It is recommended for use for those suffering from morning sickness in pregnancy or for travel sickness.Steeped in hot water it makes a refreshing tea that aids digestion, fermented with raisins and mixed with brandy, it makes a delicious wine. It can be dried and powdered for use as a spice in cooking and is also used in cookies, crackers, cakes, ginger ale and ginger beer.
The Peanut or groundnut, goober or monkey nut is grown in tropical and sub tropical regions throughout the world but is native to the western hemisphere. It may have originated in Peru or Brazil and spread to the New World as Spanish explorers discovered its versatility. From Spain, the peanut then found its way to Asia and Africa and from Africa, back to North America in the 1700s. In the 1800s the peanut was grown as a commercial crop and its main use was for oil and food for livestock and the poor. It was seen as difficult to grow and time consuming to harvest. It rose to prominence after the Civil War when soldiers from both sides subsisted on it and realised its excellent source of protein.
The 1800s saw hot roasted peanuts being sold by street vendors from carts and at circuses but it wasn’t until the 1900s and the first mechanical machines to aid harvesting that demand grew. Peanuts were then grown and used for oil, roasted and salted, peanut butter and candy. Today peanuts are the 12th most valuable cash crop grown in the US with a value of over 1 billion dollars!
To book a table or a room at our ever so comfy Restaurant with Rooms please email or call 01398 332244