Guatemala, the World’s Largest Cardamom Exporter?

Source: https://qtradeteas.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/cardamom/

Source: Qtradeteas

Cardamom, that pungent and fierce member of the ginger family, was likely first discovered in the Western Ghats of India.  It has been used for thousands of years as a breath freshener, tooth cleaner, and carminative. It is also one of the world’s most expensive spices, as it involves significant manual labor to process.

Although it is most popularly used in South Asian curries, you can also find it in Scandinavian desserts, such as Sweden’s semla, and for the amusement of food bloggers, in Guatemalan chocolate.

Antigua, Guatemala - Cardamom Chocolate (2)

Wow, cardamom really gets around.

Though the Vikings discovered cardamom in their voyages, how did this light green spice make its way to Guatemala?

Prior to World War I, German coffee farmer Oscar Majus Kloeffer introduced cardamom to the fertile soil of Alta Verapáz.  Guatemala is currently the world’s largest exporter of cardamom, though hardly uses it on the domestic front, save for adding it to bars of local chocolate much to the delight of self-described food bloggers.  Most of it is shipped to the Middle East and India, where it is used in coffee and biryani.

Grilled Curry (焼きカレー) from Moji, Japan

Moji Grilled Curry/門司の焼きカレー

Given Name: 焼きカレー (background and recipe in Japanese)

Alias:  Yaki* Curry, Grilled Curry

Place(s) of Origin: Moji*, Kitakyushu, Japan

Place Consumed: Moji, Kitakyushu, Japan

Common Features: Rice, Japanese curry sauce, cream/cheese, eggs

Background: Years ago, for my second visit to the island of Kyushu, I decided to visit Kitakyushu. It is an industrial city that for lack of a better description, affords nearby views of the city of Shimonoseki on Honshu, Japan’s largest and most populous island.
Close to Moji train station is an area called “Retro Moji (レトロ門司),” a section with buildings from the late 1880s, when this district became a regionally strategic port.

Moji Port Train Station, Moji, Japan

Although one of my goal’s was to visit Shimonoseki, a city famous for fugu*, I had read that the Moji district of Kitakyushu had a little something of its own, baked Japanese curry.
For those of you familiar with standard issue Japanese curry, which employs something of a blue-collar demi-glace replete with pickled ginger and pearl onions, Moji’s yaki curry is nothing like it.

Verdict:
The grilled curry was a bit decadent, what with cream forming a moat around the pile of eggs, resting on top of potatoes and rice, all blending together to create a slightly sweet and salty baked Japanese curry.  The cheese melted right in, which emphasized how filling the yaki curry was.  Some local Moji restaurants even add their own flair with beef and pork options.

*Yaki = 焼き/焼, cook, bake, roast, grill
Moji= 門司, formerly a city, now a district in Kitakyushu;
fugu= 河豚, 鰒 or フグ, poisonous pufferfish/blowfish

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