Pungent and spicy-sweet, ginger has a thousand culinary uses – you can pickle it, make tea, wine or ‘beer’ from it, add it to coffee and, of course, cook with it. South Indian chefs use it to flavour dishes made with lentils and pulses, while for the Japanese it is a vital condiment, both pickled (beni shoba, gari) and raw. Ginger is an essential spice: no Oriental or Asian kitchen could operate without it, and in mediaeval Europe grated ginger was part of the table setting along with the salt and pepper.
Ginger has as many reputed medical uses as culinary ones. It is best known as a digestive aid, and helps to relieve an upset stomach. It is a very effective remedy for motion sickness and has well-attested anti inflammatory properties. Ginger has also been praised as an aphrodisiac, both taken internally…and (or so we are told) applied externally!