Native to southern Asia, ginger is now grown throughout
the tropics with major production in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Jamaica, and
India. The plant's rhizome (stem that grows at ground level like iris)
is used fresh as well as dried and ground. It is a common ingredient in
Asian cooking and flavors ginger snaps, ginger ale, ginger beer, ginger
cake, and pumpkin pie.
Black pepper and hot pepper (Capsicum) are not
closely related. Black pepper originated in India and Cambodia and was
the spice that, above all, drove the spice trade. The green, immature fruits
of the pepper vine are harvested and dried, turning black upon drying.
White pepper is obtained by letting the "berries" turn red (ripen) and
then removing the outer husk, leaving the straw-colored "kernel". It is
milder than black pepper.
Native to Southeast Asia, jackfruit is now grown throughout
the tropics. The fruits can weigh up to 100 pounds and are produced directly
on the trunks and branches. Fruits are green or yellow and "warty" on the
surface. Inside, the seeds are surrounded with a fragrant yellow flesh
tasting like pineapple and bananas. The seeds are also eaten boiled or
Native to Asia, rattan is the collective name for the
climbing palms. They are rope-like, woody climbing plants that can grow
to 600 feet long. After being collected from the forest the stems are boiled
in oil and scoured in sand or sawdust to remove their natural gums and
resins. The outer skins are removed and used to weave furniture, baskets,
screens, and chair seats. The inner core is used for making baskets.