Apples & Cinnamon

When and where did the sacred union of apples and cinnamon first take place?

The orange ones shall never know.

It looks like cinnamon has been in common use since roughly 2000 BC (that we know) and was popular through the Middle East.

Apples seem to have spread from Eastern Turkey - which is not exactly far from the Middle East - and presumably existed from before mankind started to settle down into civilizations.

So the most likely guess would be that apples were first paired with cinnamon somewhere in the Assyrian Empire around 2000 BC. But it would take a bit more searching to find the oldest known recipe with both included.

Apples are native to Kazakhstan, I believe. They may have spread to Europe THROUGH Turkey though.

Cinnamon is native to the Indian subcontinent.

Most of the Medieval recipes I know for apples don’t actually call for cinnamon directly, they use other specific spices like galingale, sandalwood, saffron, anise … while others just call for “spices”, which in context meanpoudre douce. While that includes cinnamon, it isn’t necessarily the dominant component
The earliest one I know that specifies cinnamon is Rennaissance: http://www.godecookery.com/trscript/trsct014.html

There are many cinnamons. Some are more strictly called cassia, but earlier writers didn’t make the distinction and would have considered them all cinnamon. And most people would be unable to detect a taste difference. Some cassias are native to Arabia and Africa, and “true” cinnamon is from Sri Lanka.

I’m also wondering when the first cinnamon trees were cross-bred with pine trees to give us the modern cinnamon pine cones.

Might that have been due to the cost of cinnamon? Spices were quite expensive back then. Was cinnamon an expensive one?

Yes, although possibly somewhat artificially so, as the sources weren’t quite as far off as those for peppers, nutmeg or cloves.

Cinnamon was purposefully surrounded with mystique by the Arab traders who supplied the Venetians, Europe’s main spice merchants. Stuff like “Oh, it’s used by the phoenix for its pyre” or "there’s a giant Roc-like bird that makes its nests from cinnamon"and the like… But by the early 1300sEuropeans knewthe good stuff came from Sri Lanka and Malabar

Since this is about food, let’s move it to Cafe Society.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator

The Persian word for cinnamon is dār chīnī—literally ‘Chinese tree’. Persia being adjacent to the Indian subcontinent and recipient of Indian Ocean trade, if they were getting cinnamon from Sri Lanka I wonder how come they tagged it as a Chinese commodity, when Chinese trade with Persia went via the Silk Road. Along the Silk Road between China and Persia, one of the places is Kazakhstan. If cinnamon was in fact traded on the Silk Road as well as on the Indian Ocean, then the answer to the OP must be Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan/that area.

Fun fact, the name of Kazakhstan’s former capital Almaty (or Alma-Ata) means ‘Apple Father’. Sure enough, the genetic origin of the apple tree has been traced to just that part of Kazakhstan where Almaty is.

Because like I said, people earlier didn’t make any distinction between true cinnamon and cassia which is Chinese. It was likely whichever they encountered first or most of - or that Arab traders had a monopoly on Sri Lankan cinnamon, so they sourced theirs via alternate routes.

Not necessarily. Foods are weird - sometimes people just don’t come up with particular combinations until much later. But I’m not familiar enough with the cuisine of Central Asia to say what their apple dishes are like. I’m not finding much online…