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Dietribes: Ginger

• Ginger may not be the most attractive root, but it can certainly be delicious! Ginger is an herb whose root is used as a spice and, occasionally, as a medicine. It can be consumed fresh, dried, powdered or as a juice or oil, and can even work as a preservative.

• Ginger is known for a sundry of health benefits, including easing nausea, muscle pain, arthritis, and fighting ovarian cancer. And it’s particularly helpful with a pretty much inclusive list of stomach problems!

• The flavor of this feisty rhizome can be a little too powerful for some, and — speaking of stomachs — was developed into an even more delicious treat: gingerbread! Which was probably introduced to Western Europe in the 11th century (although it, like the ginger root, originated in Asia).

• Ginger has strong ties to the history of libations as well. Not only is there ginger vodka, but during Prohibition, the Canadian-created drink Ginger Ale became the most popular mixer in the country for one’s own bathtub gin.

• I gingerly approach this argument over whether gingerly should be an adverb if there is no corresponding adjective. According to an NPR piece “I have this notion that ‘gingerly‘ shouldn’t be used as an adverb, as in, ‘She hugged the child gingerly,’ because there’s no corresponding adjective ‘ginger’ — you wouldn’t say, ‘She gave the child a ginger hug.’ I’ll concede that ‘gingerly’ has been used as an adverb for 400 years, and nobody’s ever complained about it before.”

• The name Ginger has its roots (see what I did there?) in plenty of pop culture, from Ginger Spice to Ginger Rodgers, to Ginger from Gilligan’s Island, even the Segway, which bore the codename “Ginger” before its release (though according to the Social Security Administration, the name has fallen out of the top 1000 baby names since the 1980s).

• The name “ginger” can also apply to people with red or strawberry hair and fair skin. As many as 10% of Scots and Irish people are considered “gingers,” while up to 35% are thought to carry the recessive “ginger gene.” The New York Times reports that “Redheads have long been portrayed in literature and art as strong-willed and fiery. Now there may be a scientific explanation for these traits. Studies have shown redheads can withstand up to 25 percent more pain than their blonde and brunette peers do before saying ‘stop.’”

• Ginger can be potent and alluring … particularly to stag beetles! A BBC piece reports that, along with mango, avocado, ginger had the stags “rolling in it.” Well who can fault them?

• What foods or dishes do you like to flavor with ginger, Flossers? Are any of you named Ginger or consider yourself a proud ginger? Roll call below!

Hungry for more? Venture into the Dietribes archive.

‘Dietribes’ appears every other Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach. You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.


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