Ginger, common name for a plant family with
1300 species. It is pan tropical in distribution, although
mostly Far Eastern and probably native to south eastern Asia.
Its use in India and China has been known from ancient times.
The plant is cultivated widely in the tropics for its showy
flowers and useful products. These products include the
flavoring ginger; East Indian arrowroot, a food starch; and
turmeric, an important ingredient in curry powder.
Most people are familiar with the fresh root (actually a
rhizome), which is one of the primary and indispensable
flavorings of Chinese cooking, it has an aromatic, pungent smell
and a slightly biting taste
The spice is used, usually dried and ground, to flavor breads,
sauces, curry dishes, confections, pickles, and ginger ale. The
fresh rhizome, green ginger, is used in cooking. The peeled
rhizomes may be preserved by boiling in syrup. In Japan and
elsewhere, slices of ginger are eaten between dishes or courses
to clear the palate.