Clove from the French word clou meaning nail, is a dried flowers bud that sprouts off its evergreen tree, making it sparkle in a dash of red and white. Which also happens to be the colour of the Indonesian flag, making it apt as the tree is native to the Indonesian province of Maluku. They are also pink sometimes, but that would ruin that smooth transition. But yes, they are also pink, though they start their life off in as green buds, before turning yellow then red (also pink). The tree has a special place in its homeland; every child born is marked by the planting of the tree. Its life directly tied to the life of the human whose birth it marked.
This spice has a rich journey in human history; usage has dated all the way back to Syria in 1782 B.C. From references in The Arabian Nights tales, to the Chinese famously chewing them before an audience with the emperor to avoid bad breath. Cloves as well as our previously discussed nutmeg were the most valuable of the 16th century. Its value pushed a drive to control them creating war, famously known as the spice war. It was fought between the Portuguese and The Dutch East, and West India Company. The dried brown bud was worth more in its weight than gold at the time.
Cloves are a staple spice of Indonesia, a walk through a local market and you’ll detect its unmistakable scent trail from a vast distance, its slow warmth fill up your lungs with comfort. The little brown flower buds are sold for cooking, making burst alive with flavour. A variety of dishes can accommodate the cloves flavour strata, desserts, drinks, meats, and curry all make a perfect match for the feisty flower. Like a number of spices cloves influence extends far beyond the culinary space. The oil produced from clove has been in use in traditional medicine for centuries. It is regularly used in aromatherapy to help with digestive issues; it is applied to the stomach and gently massaged into the skin, letting the oil slowly warm your body.
When people think of spice, and its exotic lingering fragrance, cloves scent defines warm sweet spice, with a deep woody base note. Exotic is an interesting word, it conjures images of faraway lands filled with ancient rites and customs, colours surround you in splashes, under blue tropical skies. The images this scent produce make it a perfect choice for setting a relaxing mood, as well as the oil, incense are also a great way to enjoy the fragrance that lies hidden in these flower buds.
Traditional medicine isn’t the only avenue for cloves foray into the sciences; the oil is used in dentistry to fight against oral bacteria, as well as being an anaesthetic. Clove has also been researched for its anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. The active component eungenol in clove is thought to be in large part responsible for these combative properties. There have even been further studies to test its effectiveness against fevers, or to reduce blood sugar levels, though the research on the subject isn’t currently conclusive.
Those into flavour, colour, spice, and deep levels of relaxation will want to further delve into the alluring world of clove. Whether you know it or not, the foods you eat and products you use could be utilising the essence of this red and white (and pink) flower. Just remember to thank clove the next time you have a toothache! If clove sounds like the oil for you, then head on and take a dab of this essential oil!