Listen: If you love cinnamon, you love eating tree bark.  

My piece of shit brain had a terrible epiphany recently.  There has to be other spices derived from tree bark, right?  Cinnamon can’t have a monopoly on the tasty tree market, right???

A quick google search shows that pretty much the only spices made from tree bark are cinnamon and cassia.  Which is disappointing because cassia is cinnamon.

It’s hard to say why cinnamomum cassia (Chinese cinnamon) became more commonplace that cinnamomum verum (Ceylon cinnamon, or “true cinnamon”).  As far as I can tell, it’s become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy where cassia has dominated the market because it has more of that cinnamon-y flavor that we’ve come to expect (an expectation we only have because most of us, including myself, have only been exposed to cassia).  So, the more subtle flavors of “true cinnamon” are considered less desirable, and so it’s not cultivated at the same scale, making it rarer… and thus more desirable? Supply and demand is a bitch. Either way you look at it, anyone who really cares that much about the distinction is just being pretentious.  

My continued search for trees you can eat lead me to a bunch of wilderness survival sites, presumably because they’re the only other people on the internet unhinged enough to want to eat trees.  The general consensus seems to be that while elm, birch and spruce are all perfectly edible, pine has the best inner bark, or cambium, for eating.  It can be eaten raw (although very tough), boiled into soup, roasted into chips or- for the survivalist that has a grain mill lying around?- ground into flour.  

It turns out that there’s a history of baking with flour made from tree bark.  Bark bread, because my Scandinavian ancestors were completely off their shits, has been a thing since at least the Middle Ages, although it is considered to have been part of Sámi tradition for longer than that.  And when I say “completely off their shits,” I mean in the sense that they were trying to live in a frozen hellscape, as it was typically used as a faime food for when the wheat crop failed. Because of the high fiber/low starch content of the bark flour, it still had to be mixed with wheat flour in order to create a formable dough, usually consisting of up to ⅓ bark.  Similarly, yeast would have a hard time eating this kind of flour, making leavening difficult. The resulting bread was dense, flat, greenish-grey, bitter, and all around unappetizing. It’s not hard to imagine why it would have fallen out of favor once potatoes were introduced to the area.  

hashtag food porn

Reading about Scandiavan bark bread also lead to finding out about all the different health benefits that people across Scandinavian and Slavic countries believed drinking birch sap had, ranging from curing lung ailments to clearing kidney stones to treating cholera to washing your hair with it to make it stronger.  And all this talk about sap led to my final conclusion:

Oh my god, maple syrup. I’m a fucking idiot.

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