Historical Cultivation And Usage

Historically, AM was grown in temporary clearings in the forest along with other crops and the fruits are usually harvested from the wild when red in color (Lock et al., 1977). AM seeds have long been used in the cuisines of West and North Africa, where they were traditionally imported via caravan routes in a series of trans-shipments through the Sahara Desert to Europe. They were a very fashionable substitute for black pepper in 14th and 15th century Europe, especially in northern France, which was one of the most populous regions in Europe at that time. The seeds were used for flavoring sausages, and to give a fictitious strength to malt liquors, gin, and cordials. In the 18th century the importation of AM seeds to Great Britain collapsed after a Parliamentary Act forbade its use in malt liquor, aqua vitae, and cordials (Lock et al., 1977). AM seeds have also been used by people on certain diets, such as a raw-food diet, because they are less irritating to digest than black pepper. In the southern regions of Nigeria fic Nuts and Seeds

FIGURE 64.4

The seeds of Aframomum melegueta.

AM seeds were used for divination and in trials to determine guilt (Simmons, 1956). The seeds are served with kola nuts to entertain guests among the Igbo people of Nigeria.

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