Considering the preponderance here on E2 about nutmeg's ability to get you whacked, you could be forgiven for forgetting that it has numerous other uses as well. Of course, this deliciously aromatic spice is a mainstay of classical European pastry work and is included in many cool weather alcoholic drinks. Nutmeg also has an intriguing and turbulent history as one of the main products lusted after by spice traders.

Nutmeg is the seed contained in the fruit of the nutmeg tree Myristica fragrans native to the Banda Islands, or Spice Islands of East Indonesia. The yellow nutmeg fruit looks a little like an apricot - nectarine hybrid, which itself is of limited culinary appeal, apart perhaps from a local Indonesian preparation - manisan pala, which is sliced and candied nutmeg fruit. Once the fruit is split open, an astonishing centre is revealed. The seed is encased in a blood red net, or aril, which is another spice known as mace. Underneath this net is the seed itself, about the size of a grape - the nutmeg.

Europeans knew nutmeg as early as the Twelfth Century, but it was not until Portuguese traders discovered the Spice Islands that its popularity - and value, soared. In fact the trade in nutmeg was so profitable to the Portuguese that Dutch traders wrested control of the Islands less than a century later. The Dutch were keen to become the sole traders of the spice, which would virtually guarantee them a license to print money. As part of these efforts they systematically destroyed nearly every nutmeg tree in East Indonesia, save for a few small pockets in the Bandas which were under their control. Of course, you can't toy with Mother Nature in this fashion and hope to be successful. Local fruit pigeons swallowed nutmeg seeds and carried them to other Islands, and although the trees take 15 years to reach a fruiting maturity, populations were eventually again established.

After another 2 centuries of Dutch dominance, the British, under the guise of the East India Company took control of trade in the Bandas and began introducing nutmeg to other areas in South East Asia such as Singapore and Malaysia. These days apart from Indonesia; Sri Lanka and the West Indies are the major producers of nutmeg.

Most western cooks immediately think of sugar when considering nutmeg, atop such confections as custard tarts and doughnuts. To classical European cookery, nutmeg is perhaps one of the most important spices used in sweet dishes, following vanilla and cinnamon. However, in other parts of the world - particularly Asia, nutmeg is more often used in a savoury sense. It is a major component in the many garam masala blends of India and many Indonesian and Malay curry powders call for nutmeg in the recipe. In Italy, some ground meat preparations such as fillings for ravioli and tortellini add nutmeg as a flavouring in addition to garlic, pepper and parmesan cheese.

The spice is also a popular ingredient in alcoholic drinks such as eggnog and brandy alexander. As has been well covered above, nutmeg contains myristicin and thujone that apart form their own effects, can increase the potency of alcohol. This may be how the historic pairing of nutmeg and alcohol came about.

Nutmeg is always used finely grated. There are specialty nutmeg graters available for this purpose, but the finest holes on a regular kitchen grater will work just fine as well. Once grated, nutmeg rapidly loses its pungency, so always try to purchase nutmegs whole and grate the amount you need to order. If pre-ground nutmeg is your only choice, buy it form a popular store that has a high turnover and look for nicely coloured pale ochre to brown powder. Eschew any that is grey in appearance.

Nutmeg began as an idea in 1994 to bring various alt.magick newsgroup regulars to Chicago for a big get-together. Propagating the meme to some Chicago occultists the founders explained that they were organizing a bash for "net mages". The phrase was misheard as "Nutmeg", and this name ended up sticking like the Universal Coagulant.

Nutmeg became a loose organization of occultists, fringe scientists, and people of "alternative spiritualities" who, despite their widely diverse belief systems, share a fascination with the internet and its potential to build community.

The Nutmeg Gathering is a chance for all of the assorted freaks in the online magickal community to get together and swap stories about fearsome evocations, millenial jitters, and late-night encounters with Elder Things in the parking lots of 24-hour restaurants worldwide. It also typically includes assorted rituals, parties, and a picnic.

Nutmeg started as an annual convention, held in places like Chicago, Normal, IL, and Providence, RI. But in 1997, the organizers decided that Nutmeg meant more than a weekend of escape from the mundanes. Nutmeg adopted a membership model and incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation, but most efforts still largely centered on the Gathering.

Nutmeggers do not have to belong to any specific magickal or spiritual tradition. From its inception, Nutmeg has been open to individuals of all traditions. Dozens of spiritual traditions are reflected in our current membership and leadership, including Judaism, Christianity, Satanism, several varieties of Gnosticism, Discordianism, Ars Umbra, Tantra, Thelema, Neo-Paganism, Golden Dawn, and Chaos Magick. No one has 'most favored tradition' status.

The corporation was dissolved in 2000, so the future of the Gathering and the organization is now uncertain.

A spice often used in eggnog and occasionally in the production of Ecstasy. It can be used as a psychoactive drug in and of itself, although in my opinion this is highly inadvisable. If you must seek cheap, legal highs (with the inevitable nasty side effects), DM is much more interesting and less unpleasant.

I once took about two whole cloves in a fit of boredom and curiosity. I was high for about two hours—effects included slight speediness and a sensation that everything in my peripheral vision was vibrating. Not that interesting or memorable.

The hangover, however, was extremely memorable. After three or four hours of fitful sleep, I woke up with a terrible gnawing and turning sensation in my stomach. Further investigation revealed that I could not even stand up—I was forced to crawl to the bathroom. An attempt at puking produced only a thin stream of yellow liquid and absolutely no relief from the unbearable nausea. My head felt like mining gnomes were attempting to excavate my neural tissue with pickaxes and explosives.

I had to work that night. The ensuing shift was a terrible ordeal alleviated only by locking myself into a storeroom and moaning wretchedly.

Taken in high doses, nutmeg can be quite intoxicating, partly because it's similar in chemical makeup to MDMA. Nutmeg causes symptoms such as stupor, drowsiness, delirium and sleep. Many prison inmates have known about it and used it for years, which is why most prisons have banned the use of this spice!

About 14 grams (two tablespoons) taken by mouth cause a rather unpleasant, dreamlike "trip". Other symptoms include a rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, and thirst. Agitation, apprehension, and a sense of impending doom may last about 12 hours, with a sense of unreality persisting for several days.

Nutmeg contains five to 15 per cent myrista oil, which is responsible for the physical effects. About four per cent is Myristicin, which is structurally similar to mescaline. (Mace, the exterior covering of the Nutmeg seed, also contains the hallucinogenic compound myristicin). Elemicin is another potent psychoactive ingredient in nutmeg. Similar to SSRI antidepressants such as Prozac, Myristicin blocks the release of serotonin from brain neurones. Scientists believe that once the substance enters the body it's converted to methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) -- ecstasy. Damn.

I achieve a low-level state of heightened awareness from a very small ingestion of nutmeg. Incredibly small amounts of it will produce the effect. It causes my tongue to tingle just so. I'll notice the effect from just an eighth of a teaspoon of nutmeg in an apple pie. One little slice, and something in my head switches on. It's the same sort of feeling I get when I eat tree ear mushrooms in Vietnamese Spring Rolls, although nutmeg seems to have a distinctly dark edge to its otherworldlyness. It leaves you uneasy. Perhaps that's why it's the perfect companion for eggnog during the holidays. Eggnog just before midnight mass with lots of incense and choral music. Sounds a lot like Boone's Farm in the woods with shrooms and Tangerine Dream to me.

Nutmeg is also at the heart of the funniest Beavis and Butthead skit. They're watching this lo-fi video by John Spencer Blues Explosion. The video looks like it was filmed in a basement with a handheld VHS recorder (and probably was). Outfits and sets are constructed from wire hangers and aluminum foil. All throughout the video, Beavis and Butthead are enthralled by what they're seeing. "A Video!" exclaims Beavis gleefully. "Yeah, not only can you hear the music, you can see stuff too" chimes in Butthead. They're genuinely excited about this awful video. At the end, Beavis asks Butthead, "Got any more nutmeg? No? That's OK, I'm cool man." Never laughed so damn hard as the first time I saw that.

Has to be extremely finely chopped to get any sort of high from. The puree setting on the blender helps, but it's still quite a feat to manage to scarf down the dirt-textured spicey mess. Might be better off smoking banana peels.

Nutmeg is a football (or soccer if you prefer) term, for when a player threads the football between an opposing player's legs. A nutmeg can either be part of a dribble or as a pass to another player or even a shot at goal. In any case, being on the receiving end of a nutmeg is deeply embarrassing for any football player. The cheekiest way to perform this is to shout 'nutmeg' before you play the ball through your opponent's legs.

The origins of the term are unclear, one explanation is that nutmeg is cockney rhyming slang for 'leg', so playing the ball between the legs becomes a nutmeg.

Nutmeg poisoning is indeed possible, although most common not in filthy junkies like ourselves, but rather Victorian women in the US and UK who tried to induce abortion with it. ("Victorian culture," although possibly a misnomer, was certainly international.) British medical journals covered the phenomenon, although almost as interesting as the practice is its ineffectiveness. A 1962 survey (1) noted that of all the women treated for an overdose of nutmeg, only one actually miscarried, and that was a month after she took the drug. On the other hand, if there had been uncomplicated successes, they would likely not have been reported to doctors.

1. McCord, J. A., and Jervey, L. P., "Nutmeg (myristicin) poisoning ". Jour. S. Carolina Med. Assoc., 58 (1): 436-438, 1962.

There has been some talk about the use of nutmeg as a drug. It certainly can be used to induce an altered state of mind. But beware, the nutmeg high does not come without side effects. Let me tell you about it.

First of all, eating ground nutmeg is horrible. It feels like eating sand. You will consume lots of water or other drinks while you are stuffing your face with that nutmeggy goodness. After a couple hours, you will feel weird. Your whole body will be heavy and depending on some things, it might feel good or really bad. Your mouth may start to dry up. I'm not talking about drying up like when you haven't drunk any water for a long time. You can gulp down 2 gallons and your mouth will still feel like Sahara. The mouth dryness can persist for 2 days or even longer.

But it's not the high itself that's the worst. It's the day after. You will feel really tired, some people have experienced pain in the kidney area. The state is very similar to an alcohol hangover, but worse. You are lucky if you are even able to get out of the bed.

Let this just be something to consider before you try using nutmeg to get high. Your experience may not be as bad as the one described here, but please, be prepared.

Nut"meg (?), n. [OE. notemuge; note nut + OF. muge musk, of the same origin as E. musk; cf. OF. noix muguette nutmeg, F. noix muscade. See Nut, and Musk.] Bot.

The kernel of the fruit of the nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans), a native of the Molucca Islands, but cultivated elsewhere in the tropics.

⇒ This fruit is a nearly spherical drupe, of the size of a pear, of a yellowish color without and almost white within. This opens into two nearly equal longitudinal valves, inclosing the nut surrounded by its aril, which is mace The nutmeg is an aromatic, very grateful to the taste and smell, and much used in cookery. Other species of Myristica yield nutmegs of inferior quality.

American, Calabash, ∨ Jamaica, nutmeg, the fruit of a tropical shrub (Monodora Myristica). It is about the size of an orange, and contains many aromatic seeds imbedded in pulp. -- Brazilian nutmeg, the fruit of a lauraceous tree, Cryptocarya moschata. -- California nutmeg, tree of the Yew family (Torreya Californica), growing in the Western United States, and having a seed which resembles a nutmeg in appearance, but is strongly impregnated with turpentine. -- Clove nutmeg, the Ravensara aromatica, a laura ceous tree of Madagascar. The foliage is used as a spice, but the seed is acrid and caustic. -- Jamaica nutmeg. See American nutmeg (above). -- Nutmeg bird Zool., an Indian finch (Munia punctularia). -- Nutmeg butter, a solid oil extracted from the nutmeg by expression. -- Nutmeg flower Bot., a ranunculaceous herb (Nigella sativa) with small black aromatic seeds, which are used medicinally and for excluding moths from furs and clothing. -- Nutmeg liver Med., a name applied to the liver, when, as the result of heart or lung disease, it undergoes congestion and pigmentation about the central veins of its lobules, giving it an appearance resembling that of a nutmeg. -- Nutmeg melon Bot., a small variety of muskmelon of a rich flavor. -- Nutmeg pigeon Zool., any one of several species of pigeons of the genus Myristicivora, native of the East Indies and Australia. The color is usually white, or cream-white, with black on the wings and tail. -- Nutmeg wood Bot., the wood of the Palmyra palm. -- Peruvian nutmeg, the aromatic seed of a South American tree (Laurelia sempervirens). -- Plume nutmeg Bot., a spicy tree of Australia (Atherosperma moschata).


© Webster 1913.

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