A Reader Asks… Be honest, no one knows who you are. Mine is but I am trying to fix it. I am a lifelong horder and collector and the junk and stuff just piles up all over.
American paprika is grown commercially almost entirely in small areas in southern California (since 1931) and south-east Arizona; it was formerly grown in South Carolina, until 1946 when increasing competition from imported paprika made production unprofitable. Although the production of paprika in the USA is a relatively new industry, it now supplies about 40 per cent of US requirements, more than that supplied by any individual foreign country.
Camphor oil is obtained by distilling the wood or leaves of Cinnamomum camphora (L.) Presl, which is a native of China, Japan and Taiwan, the last island producing the greatest amount. C. camphora can be distinguished from the other species of Cinnamomum mentioned above by the leaves being pinninerved, whereas the others have three to five distinct nerves from the base of the leaves proceeding towards the tip; camphor also has stout dormant buds. A large proportion of the world’s camphor is now produced synthetically from pinenc, a turpentine derivative, or from coal tar. Camphor is used in the manufacture of celluloid, in disinfectants and chemical preparations, and has a wide range of medicinal uses. Safrole, produced from the residual oil after camphor extraction, is used in soap and perfume manufacture.
Cassia, also known as cassia lignea or Chinese cinnamon, is said to be one of the oldest of spices. It was known in China as long ago as 27 B.C., in Egypt in the seventeenth century B.C., and it is said to have been familiar to all the people of the Mediterranean area at an early date. These statements are open to doubt and there is probably some confusion with some other bark.
The quills, which may be incompletely dried, may be recleaned, washed in fresh water, thoroughly dried and packed. Good Chinese cassia bark is sweet and aromatic, resembling Ceylon cinnamon in flavour, but is rather less delicate and sometimes slightly astringent; it is less uniformly thin and darker in colour; the outer bark is often less carefully removed, leaving patches of rough, greyish bark.