Who was the first person to eat ginger?

Ginger in all its forms: by  FotoosVanRobin

Gorgeous Ginger Image by FotoosVanRobin

While peeling some raw ginger root the other day to pop some in my tea, I got to thinking what a bizarre looking root it really is. The fact that it is a root with many amazing healing properties with a long and rich history is pretty awesome. But who dug it up and went “you know what, that looks tasty”?

It certainly wouldn’t have been my first choice as a meal. Ginger has a mandrake look to it that in the right light can be kind of scary. Even my cat is afraid of a big raw ginger root. I think he believes it is some kind of creature that could sprout teeth and fur at any second. And you know what? In the right light, if I am alone at home and have been reading a Steven King novel, or worse, watching some horror re-run on TV, my mind tends to run away with me and suddenly I have a bowl of yelling roots as well as a frightened cat.

It is not surprising then that the word Ginger is from the ancient Sanskrit  “Singabera” meaning shaped like a horn. Even the 1st century Greek name for it sounds like a big scary mythological beast: “Zingiberis”. But it isn’t a beast at all. It is just a small root with scarily powerful properties.

The truth is I have no idea who ate the first ginger. It has been around for as long as there are historical records and even before then. No matter who our ancestor was that decided the odd looking root may have some nutritional benefit was very wise. And probably a woman. As a plant the stem grows about 12 inches above the ground with long ribbed green leaves and yellow or white flowers sometimes streaked with purple around the sides. Not so scary. Pretty flowers don’t sound scary.

It is when it is actually used that ginger is amazing. Once peeled and chopped up it is so fragrant even the cat got curious again.

And once the tea had brewed it may just be that I was more relaxed by the process or maybe the Ginger really worked because with a content cat on my lap, and a warm belly with a sense of well being second to none, I cracked the first smile of the day.