Last modified: 2006-01-07 by bruce berry
Keywords: zanzibar | clove |
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image by Vincent Morley, 16 Jan 1997
On 10 December 1963, the Zanzibar Protectorate was granted independence
as the Sultanate of Zanzibar by the British. The flag adopted was red with
a green disc upon which were two yellow cloves. (Possibly because the flag
was short-lived, variations exist on the design of the cloves.) The Sultanate,
and its flag, didn’t last long. On 17 January 1964 there was a violent
Marxist/Africanist coup which resulted in the deaths or expulsion of an
estimated one in five of the Arab population.
Stuart Notholt, 29 Jun 1996
The short-lived flag seems to be the only flag ever showing cloves.
Gernot Katzer's Spice Dictionary has more details on cloves. Cloves are
produced by the clove tree _Syzygium aromaticum_ ([L.] Merr.
& Perry), aka _Eugenia caryophyllata_ and _Caryophyllus aromaticus_
(_Myrtaceae family). In traditional pharmaceutical nomenclature, cloves
are called _Flores Caryophylli_. They are indeed floral buds.
Cloves are strongly aromatic and have a very intensive fragrance, a fiery and burning taste. The content of essential oil in cloves of good quality may exceed 15%. The oil itself is dominated by eugenol (70 to 85%), eugenol acetate (15%) and B-caryophyllene (5 to 12%), which together make up 99% of the oil.
The clove tree is endemic in the North Moluccas (Indonesia) and was of old cultivation on the islands of Ternate, Tidore, Bacan and the West coast of Halmahera. The Dutch extended cultivation to several other islands in the Moluccas, but only after the end of the Dutch monopoly (18th century), clove trees were introduced to other countries.
The most important production area today is the island of Pemba, which together with Zanzibar forms one part of the state of Tanzania. The whole island of Pemba is covered with clove gardens, and it is reported that the island can be smelled on any ship approaching it. The short-lived Sultanate of Zanzibar and Pemba (1963–1964) had a flag showing two clove buds.
Cloves are also grown on other East African islands, most notably, Madagascar. In Indonesia, clove production has recovered from poor decades after World War II, such that the country was forced to import cloves to satisfy the huge domestic market. Since the 1980s, Indonesia is again producing in large scale, although little of the Indonesian crop gets exported. Cloves are an ancient spice and, because of their exceptional aromatic strength, have always been held in high esteem by cooks in Europe, Northern Africa the greater part of Asia. Trade between the “clove island” Ternate and China goes back at least 2500 years. In China, cloves were not only used for cooking but also for decoration; anyone having an audience with the emperor had to chew cloves to prevent any undesired smell. Arab traders brought cloves to Europe in the time of the Romans; they were very expensive.
When the Europeans, in the Age of Exploration, finally found the clove producing islands, they took enormous interest in securing a constant spice supply. The few tourists visiting the small island of Ternate (9 km diameter) will be surprised to find crumbling remnants of about 10 fortresses, built by Portuguese, Spanish, British and finally Dutch soldiers in the 16th and early 17th century. During all of the 17th century, the Dutch kept an effective monopoly in the clove trade, which guaranteed high profits to them. It is amazing that cloves are not (or at least, very rarely and only for sweets) used in the cuisine of the Moluccas; actually, in whole Indonesia, they are not an important spice. Nonetheless, Indonesians are the main consumers of cloves and use up nearly 50% of the world's production. But, alas!, not for cooking but for smoking: Cigarettes flavoured with cloves (_kretek_) are extremely popular and nearly every (male) Indonesian enjoys them. Their sweet, incense-like aroma pervades Indonesian restaurants, busses, markets and offices. It is impossible to mention all cuisines where cloves are used; they are much loved by the Chinese, play an important role in Sri Lankan cooking, are extensively used in the Moghul cuisine of Northern India, enjoy high popularity in the Middle East and many Arab countries and are a common spice in Northern Africa. In all these countries, they are preferred for meat dishes; frequently, rice is aromatized with a few cloves. In Ethiopia, coffee is often roasted together with some cloves in the so-called “coffee ceremony”.
Cloves have less use in Europe, where there strong flavour is not so
much appreciated. They are much used for special types of sweets or sweet
breads, but especially for stewed fruits (together with cinnamon). Plain
rice is often flavoured one or two cloves. In France, cloves often go into
long-simmered meat stews or hearty meat broths. In England, they are most
popular in pickles. Consequently, many spice mixtures contain cloves. They form an essential
part in the Chinese five spice powder, frequently appear in curry powders,
determine the character of the Moghul variant of_garam masala_
and are a component of the Arabic _baharat_ . Mixtures from Africa
containing cloves are Moroccan _ras el hanout_ , Tunisian _gâlat
dagga_ and Ethiopian _berbere_ . A well-known European
spice mixture depending on cloves is the French _quatre épices_.
Lastly, cloves have also established themselves in México.
The taste of the famous Worcestershire sauce (also spelled Worcester),
an Indo-British contribution to international cuisine, is markedly dominated
by clove aroma. The sauce is composed of several spices (besides cloves,
garlic, tamarind, paprika or chilies are most frequently found), fish extract,
soy sauce, treacle, vinegar (or lemon juice) and salt. There is no “authentic
recipe”, and therefore every vendor may sell his own creation.
Ivan Sache, 06 Jan 2005
National Flag 1963-1964 of Zanzibar - ratio is 1:2 according to Alfred Znamierowsky's
(1999) "World Encyclopaedia of Flags" [zna99] and in "Flag Bulletin
XXIV No 5".
Martin Grieve, 13 Jul 2002