Slow Food Cincinnati is thrilled to have boarded our second local product onto the national and international Slow Food Ark of Taste!
The American Spice Bush is a flowering plant native to Eastern North America. The plant gives a small red berry-like fruit which has a pronounced and especially spicy flavor resembling allspice. It is historically noted, and still prevalent, in the Ohio Valley; a description from 1810 cites the untrammeled wilds around Cincinnati, Ohio as “a sugar-tree wood with groves of pawpaw and spicewood bushes.” The spice bush is one of the few sources of spicy flavor native to North America. Spice bush berries were a prime source of flavor for centuries in North America, used by such tribes as the Rappahannock, Chippewa, and Miami; European settlers as well adopted it into their kitchens. Along with the berries, the twigs, shoots and bark are used to make a tea. Today, American Spice Bush is found at farmer’s markets and foraged wild and found for sale at farmer’s markets. It is a favorite of creative chefs, and occasionally used by distillers as an aromatic botanical in the production of locally flavored American gins.