The Crazy Spicy Story of Cinnamon November 03 2015
At one time, cinnamon was such a coveted commodity in Ceylon that they created myths about fabled creatures, including bats and winged serpents, who guarded swamps and marshes where the cinnamon trees were claimed to have grown. Once discovered by surrounding countries however, the drive for Ceylon cinnamon inspired more than stories. It helped prompt outsiders to invade the small territory. The Portuguese conquered Ceylon in 1505 but were later usurped by the Dutch and then British forces seized what became known as Sri Lanka in 1798.
Expensive to export and transport, ceylon cinnamon was expensive and limited in supply to even the highest classes of European societies which transformed the spice into an early status symbol. The fantastical stories of where and how the Arabs obtained Ceylon cinnamon helped to drive up the spice's worth and maintain their monopoly on the cinnamon trade. Tales of giant birds, whose nests were lined in cinnamon sticks were created in order to dissuade other gatherers. European travelers, including Columbus and Gonzalo Pizzaro, attempted to find their own treasure of cinnamon sources but were disappointed when what they found was not the favored spice.
Today, we also are often fooled by what passes for true cinnamon in the grocery store. Real, organic ceylon cinnamon comes almost exclusively from Sri Lanka from trees that grow up to 30 feet in height. Ceylon cinnamon is often more expensive than the Cassia cinnamon you find on store shelves but is noted for its mild, sweet flavor that is popular for its aroma and therapeutic benefits.