The Gestalt of Ginger

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What is it? A five-legged horse? A bunny? A little man waving? Or maybe it’s a piece of ginger root. It is oh-so-human of us to give names and stories to amorphous forms like clouds, char patterns on grilled cheese, or knobby ginger roots. Gestalt theory of perception is the study of how people perceive visual components—seeing patterns or familiar shapes instead of the actual parts. Yet, whatever shape the nubs of ginger in FruitGuys' TakeHome cases take, we can tell you it is fresh, pungent, and ready to do your culinary bidding.

Ginger is a wonderfully aromatic spice, lending its pungent flavor to the sweet and the savory. The powerful constituent in ginger is gingerol, a chemical relative to capsaicin in chili, but far milder. Chopped or minced and paired with lemon or garlic, it adds brightness to sautéed greens. Pickled or candied or shredded and preserved in oil as in the Burmese side dish gyin-thot, ginger brings delightful focus to a dish.

We call it a root, but in actuality it’s a rhizome. Used in tropical landscapes, the flower from the ginger plant is va-va-voom, but the flower of the culinary ginger plant is less showy, its energy going into the rhizome. It is currently ginger season in Hawaii, the source for U.S. ginger. Gingers from other parts of the world have different characteristics. Indian ginger is citrus-like, African strong, Chinese pungent, and Jamaican sweet.

Good for what ails you, ginger is a wonderful household remedy. Use it to cure digestive disorders with a soothing tea made by boiling a few slices (with the bark on), straining, and adding lemon juice and honey. Carry a piece to scratch-n-sniff to alleviate nausea. It’s no wonder that ginger is a symbol of health and good luck around the world. There’s an ancient belief that ginger in your pocket will bring you money—but sometimes, a knob of ginger is just a knob of ginger.

Preparation: To peel, use the round edge of a teaspoon and scrape away from yourself, getting into all the nooks and crannies (it works surprisingly well!). Most recipes call for ginger to be sliced, chopped, or grated. If you enjoy ginger a lot, you might want to pick up a ceramic ginger grater (a shallow plate with raised prongs that sort the fiber from the flesh).

Storage: Store ginger in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. May also be frozen.

by Heidi Lewis

 

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