Ok, I’ll admit it: I didn’t know that nutmeg and mace were parts of the same plant. Did you? (Why didn’t you tell me?) Nutmeg isn’t a nut—it’s a seed—and mace is the vibrant red anil, or covering, that protects it.
I prefer nutmeg freshly grated. It contains myristicin, a natural organic compound which can trigger hallucinations in large doses—but that’s not why I like it, no no. Nutmeg is just one of those ingredients that brings warmth and complexity to dishes when added in small amounts.
Bananas and nutmeg are a dynamic duo. Together they remind me of a trip to Jamaica in late 2010. The island air had a spicy-sweet smell, and desserts featuring nutmeg and bananas were plentiful. This Banana Upside-Down Cake (above) exhibits all their best attributes. As advised in the recipe notes, do not use overripe bananas: they may disintegrate and can take on a rather disconcerting purplish hue. I learned this from experience.
A generous pinch of fresh nutmeg makes my creamed spinach transcendent. Use it in yours and taste the difference. Or try this Lasagne Bolognese with Spinach. It’s the kind of meal that readies you for a long winter’s nap. For a multi-course extravaganza, begin with Potted Crab, where nutmeg adds earthiness to Alaskan king crab meat; have the lasagne for a main; and end with Eggnog Ice Cream. Three courses’ worth of nutmeg may be enough to produce a gentle state of euphoria—but, for me, any well-cooked three-course meal usually will.
Are you ready to break out the nutmeg?