I suppose I'm old-fashioned--but I never thought much of showing the whole town a woman's bust! Hee, hee, hee!
. . . . Afternoon, Mrs. Hicks. Sage? Just out of it. Lemme sell you some other spices. Heh?" Uncle Whittier was nasally indignant "CERTAINLY! Got PLENTY other spices jus' good as sage for any purp'se whatever! What's the matter with--well, with allspice?"

--Sinclair Lewis, Main Street, chpt. 24)

§ Home § Search § FoodTales § Any comments?


(Pimenta dioica)

Allspice is the dried berry of an evergreen tree native to tropical America. This tree, of the Myrtle family, grows about 35 feet tall. Its gray bark smells good; its dark green leaves smell good (from the glandular dots on their underside); and their greeny white flowers are almost overpowering. These produce a succulent berry that ripens from green to dark purple and contains two pea-sized seeds. Seventy percent of the oil extracted from these seeds are eugenol, the same oil found in cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. And it is this oil that gives the distinctive flavoring to Chartreuse and other liqueurs that, from centuries ago, have been made in European monasteries.

Allspice, too, has been used in folk medicine as a poultice to relieve the pain of arthritis. And, in fact, allspice does contain tannins that are mildly anaesthetic, though they can actually irritate the skin if they are in direct contact with it.

Jamaica continues to produce the world's greatest supply of allspice, where it is gathered by hand as a dark purple berry and dried until its 2 seeds rattle. In a pinch, you can approximate allspice by mixing one part nutmeg with 2 parts each cinnamon and cloves.