Of mace & nutmeg

in Taste -


Last week, I went to the Full of Spice festival in Kew Gardens. It was cool (no pun intended) and interesting and rekindled my love for spices. Of all the info on all the spices, what struck me the most was that on nutmeg and mace.

Mace reminds me of ‘Of mice and men’. I told my sister and she was like ‘Right. You do know it’s mice, not mace, you fool!’. Yes, yes I do know that. But not much else about mace. So after reading about it at the exhibition, I did a little digging. And here’s what I found: first of all, dried mace is pretty striking, don’t you think? A little weird and spiderweb-y yes, but also kinda striking. So what’s up with these thick vein-like pieces (referred to as blades) and how are they related to my beloved nutmeg? The short answer is they both come from the same tree, the nutmeg tree. Nutmeg is the seed inside the fruit, and mace is the veiny cover around that seed. Pretty simple, huh? They both have a similar sweet, nutty and slightly peppery flavour however, as just mentioned, mace is quite a stunner: it tastes like nutmeg, only a milder version of it, one that’s been on a crazy sweet ride with herbs and lemons and maybe a little cinnamon too. Dried mace blades can be added whole, usually towards the end of cooking, as they can turn bitter, and removed before serving, or ground in a spice or coffee grinder; you can also use pre-ground ones, which however are not as flavourful.

Step back (for now) nutmeg; mace, bring it on .

A simple, yet flavourful mace cake.

Lobster in a thick and spicy tomato sauce, finished off flambé with brandy. Wow.

Dolmas (stuffed grape leaves)- one of my all time favourite dishes, made even better with the addition of oh so many herbs and spices!

Delia Smith’s béchamel sauce with a pinch of mace; Delia always knows what’s up.

Of course you can add mace to a beautiful mushroom curry.

Sugar cookies with butter, mace and not much else. Cause you don’t need much else.

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