Wine Culture and Information - Volume 17
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 Events  Share this article     Summary of Not Just Wine column  
  Not Just Wine Issue 58, December 2007   
SesameSesame AquavitaeAquavitae Wine ParadeWine Parade  Contents 
Issue 57, November 2007 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 59, January 2008

Sesame

Reserved and discrete, with a full and charming taste, sesame is among the most ancient condiments known by men, used for the preparation of foods since 3000 BC

 Sesame “Sesamum Indicum” is a flowering plant belonging to the family of Pedaliaceae, originating from India and Africa, presently cultivated in many regions of the world, from China to the United States. It is an annual plant, having an erect stalk of about 80 centimeters long, but in some regions, with a particularly favorable climate, it can also reach 3 meters. Leaves are opposed and with an elongated shape, flowers have a calyx with five tips, cylindrical corolla and five petals of white or rose color with black spots. Pollination is autogamous consisting in the transportation of the pollen from anthers to the pistils of the same flower, from which are generated elongated capsules two centimeters long, containing many seeds (from 50 to 100) of flat aspect and with a pointed tip, about one or two millimeters long. Sesame is a plant which cannot stand the cold - it does not stand to temperatures lower than 10° C - it can survive well also in conditions of drought, however in case it is being regularly irrigated, it has a higher production. As for the soil, sesame does not have particular needs, however as it is a plant with a rapid growth, it needs a soil rich in nutritional substances and easily assimilable.


Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds

 There are many varieties of sesame, they are classified according to the color of the seeds: white, black and yellow. Seeds are the part of the plant to be used, they are rich in mineral salts, vitamin E, calcium, proteins and many natural oils. Seeds are harvested and allowed to dry under the sun for about 10 days, therefore they can be consumed, or can be processed in order to extract an oil with a sweetish taste and used in cooking. It is believed sesame has been one of the first plants to be cultivated and it was probably one of the first plants to be used as a food or condiment. This hypothesis is supported by the examination of some Sumerian clay tablets dated back to 2300 BC. Babylonians used sesame - since 2200 BC - for the preparation of sweets, to make an alcoholic beverage and they knew the technique of the extraction of the oil from its seeds. Egyptians knew sesame seeds and they mainly used them in pharmaceutical preparations. In the Nile valley, in 1875 was found some papyri, dated back to 3000 BC, in which it is mentioned sesame and the way it was used in pharmaceutical preparations, moreover, evident proofs of sesame were found in pyramids dated back to 2700 BC.

 From some archaeological findings was discovered that, still in the same period, sesame plant was very common in the Syrian and Palestinian areas. In those areas was used sesame oil as a fuel for lamps. In Sri Lanka, Indonesia and in the Indochinese area, missionary Buddhist monks have contributed to the spreading and culture of sesame. The use of sesame in the Indian area is dated back to the third century BC: this can be found out by the findings from the archaeological site of Harappa, located in the eastern banks of Ravi river, where are found the remaining of the two important Indian cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro. Examination done with radiocarbon have dated these two cities to a period from 2300 BC and 1750 BC. In these places was also found a handful of carbonized sesame seeds. Indians believe sesame was originated in remote times, a gift given by gods: according to Indian literature sesame seeds were originated from Vishnu's sweat drops. Information of the usage of sesame seed are found in the most ancient and important Indian books, such as Rgveda, Atharvaveda and Yajurveda. In Manavadharmasastra was illustrated the way of using sesame in the many aspects of life, religion, family and medicine.

 In Indian culture there are strict rules about the respect to be paid to a plant of sesame: a peasant can sell the seeds of the plant, but they must be used for religious purposes only. In Indian religious culture, sesame seeds are strictly connected to conception and to procreation, therefore they are the symbol of rebirth, for this reason they were used in rituals for ancestors, to whom it could open the doors of heaven and to get the favor of Yama, god of the dead. Another power of sesame seed, which connected it to the world of the living and the dead, was to clean every sin. The importance of sesame in the culture of Indian area, was also shown by the fact in sacred Buddhist books sesame was mentioned among superior foods, widely used in the diet of monks. Buddha suggested sesame seed, although it was very small, it could generate a big tree.

 Another method of using sesame seeds was, as suggested by the Atharvaveda, the extraction of the oil, which was also used in Hindu funeral ceremonies to purify the corpse and the stake. Sesame oil was also used during the obsequies of Buddha: it is in fact told monks put the corpse of the Buddha in an ark full of sesame oil. Sesame also plays an important role in traditional medicine. According to famous medicine books Characa Samhita (second century BC) and Susruta (sixth century BC), sesame oil was a good remedy against burns, to prepare remedies for convulsions, headache, earache and tetanus. According to traditional medicine, sesame seeds and their preparations, were effective also thanks to its magical properties for being a divine plant, and could chase off demons causing diseases. Sesame seeds were spread on the seats of guests in order to chase off demons which could have disturbed them.

 

Sesame and Cooking

 Sesame oil is generally found in every cooking oil and in margarine, in variable quantity of about 5%. In Asian regions sesame oil is used to dress foods and it is added to rice. Moreover sesame oil is used by cosmetic industry and pharmacological industry. Tahin or Tahini (pronounced as tahineh), is a cream obtained by crushing sesame seeds, slightly toasted, and mixed with oil, in order to get the consistency of a thick cream, also known as sesame butter or sesame cream. Used in Middle Eastern and Greek cooking, it is very common in Turkey. Halva or Helva, is a sweet made from Tahin mixed with sugar and other flavorings, very common in the East. Gomashio, which is obtained from toasted sesame seed and salt, is typical in Japanese and Korean cooking.

 The best way to use sesame seeds is to ground them at the moment of consumption and to use them as soon as possible, as they contain some fatty acids, belonging to the family of Omega-3, which get easily spoiled in contact with the air and with an excessive heat. Sesame seeds can be used to season salads, sauteed vegetables, meatballs and home made bread. Sesame seeds are used for the preparation of gomashio (from Japanese goma, sesame seeds, and shio, salt), known in Korea as Ggaessogum. It is a compound of salt and toasted and crushed sesame seeds, to which are sometimes added seaweeds, used in Asian cooking as a condiment for sauces and salads. In Egypt sesame is added to spices, salt, hazelnuts and olive oil to make Dukka or Dukkah. There are three varieties of sesame: white, black and yellow. White and yellow sesame are basically the same and are considered to be best for cooking, whereas black sesame is considered the best for the preparation of pharmaceutical products. In the East it is said black sesame, added to a daily diet, has the property of giving the hair a deep black color.

 Sesame is an excellent tonic in general, it is used as a food supplement for the diet of kids in case of growth lower than the norm. Sesame seeds, thanks to their chemical composition, are a small concentrate of vitamins and minerals. A teaspoon of sesame oil a day helps to keep the skin young and it is effective for the good functionality of the bowel. More of the 25% in sesame seeds is made from high quality proteins. It is also rich in calcium and zinc, it is good against infections, to contrast the action of free radicals, very useful during growth and for the ones doing an intellectual job. Sesame seeds are rich in unsaturated fats Omega-3 and Omega-6, useful for the protection of the body against circulatory diseases. Sesame is a good source of calcium, useful for people over 60 and for osteoporosis, during pregnancy and breast feeding, for anyone doing sport and for anyone having a sedentary life. Sesame contains a quantity of calcium equal to the one of cheese and does not contain any cholesterol, triglycerides and saturated fats. It can be consumed by subjects suffering from milk allergies and strengthens the immunitary system in convalescing subjects. Sesame seeds can be kept in paper or fabric bags and stored in a dry place. Because of its high contents in fats, sesame can easily go rancid, therefore it is always advised to buy and use it fresh.

 



 Events  Share this article     Summary of Not Just Wine column  
  Not Just Wine Issue 58, December 2007   
SesameSesame AquavitaeAquavitae Wine ParadeWine Parade  Contents 
Issue 57, November 2007 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 59, January 2008

Aquavitae

Review of Grappa, Distillates and Brandy

 

Distillates are rated according to DiWineTaste's evaluation method. Please see score legend in the "Wines of the Month" section.



Grappa di Recioto di Soave, Ca' Rugate (Veneto, Italy)
Grappa di Recioto di Soave
Ca' Rugate (Veneto, Italy)
(Distiller: Distilleria Maschio Pietro)
Raw matter: Pomace of Garganega
Price: € 20,00 - 50cl Score: Wine that excels in its category
This grappa is limpid, colorless and crystalline. The nose denotes intense, clean and pleasing aromas of almond, apple, pear, honey and plum, with almost imperceptible alcohol pungency. In the mouth has intense flavors, with perceptible alcohol pungency which tends to dissolve rapidly, good correspondence to the nose, balanced sweetness, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of apple, plum and honey. This grappa is distilled with a discontinuous steam operated alembic still. Alcohol 43%.



Grappa di Amarone, Ca' Rugate (Veneto, Italy)
Grappa di Amarone
Ca' Rugate (Veneto, Italy)
(Distiller: Distilleria Maschio Pietro)
Raw matter: Pomace of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella
Price: € 20,00 - 50cl Score:
This grappa shows a light straw yellow color, limpid and crystalline. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas of vanilla, tobacco, honey, plum, licorice, hazelnut, praline and blackberry, with almost imperceptible alcohol pungency. In the mouth has intense flavors, with perceptible alcohol pungency which tends to dissolve rapidly, good correspondence to the nose, balanced sweetness, pleasing roundness. The finish is persistent with flavors of hazelnut, plum, honey and licorice. This grappa is distilled with a discontinuous steam operated alembic still and ages in cask for about 6-9 months. Alcohol 43%.





 Events  Share this article     Summary of Not Just Wine column  
  Not Just Wine Issue 58, December 2007   
SesameSesame AquavitaeAquavitae Wine ParadeWine Parade  Contents 
Issue 57, November 2007 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 59, January 2008

Wine Parade


 

The best 15 wines according to DiWineTaste's readers. To express your best three wines send us an E-mail or fill in the form available at our WEB site.


Rank Wine, Producer
1 Sforzato di Valtellina Canua 2001, Conti Sertoli Salis (Italy)
2 Barolo Cannubi Boschis 2001, Sandrone (Italy)
3 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2000, Zenato (Italy)
4 Soave Classico Monte Alto 2004, Ca' Rugate (Italy)
5 Barolo Bussia 2001, Prunotto (Italy)
6 Sagrantino di Montefalco Collepiano 2003, Arnaldo Caprai (Italy)
7 Collio Bianco Col Disôre 2004, Russiz Superiore (Italy)
8 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Costasera 2001, Masi (Italy)
9 San Leonardo 2001, Tenuta San Leonardo (Italy)
10 Don Antonio 2003, Morgante (Italy)
11 Bradisismo 2003, Inama (Italy)
12 Nero al Tondo 2001, Ruffino (Italy)
13 Wine Obsession 2001, Vignamaggio (Italy)
14 Mater Matuta 2003, Casale del Giglio (Italy)
15 Chianti Classico Riserva Novecento 2000, Dievole (Italy)

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 Events  Share this article     Summary of Not Just Wine column  
  Not Just Wine Issue 58, December 2007   
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