A nutmeg grater with a round, pierced metal face, a thick wooden handle at right angles to the face and a swivel grating mechanism with a hinged handle below the face.
A nutmeg grinder is a device used to grate down a whole nutmeg seed into the powder we more commonly use in cooking and flavouring dishes. Until the mid-19th century, Banda Island was the only source of nutmeg for the entire world. Nutmeg was recorded as a prized and costly spice in medieval cooking, and was believed to ward off the plague. In the 17th century, the Dutch took control of the nutmeg trade after their violent takeover of the islands. Later in the 17th century century, men took to carrying these little devices around with them in their pockets, as part of the craze for drinking punch – nutmeg was an integral part of the flavour. This grinder is most likely to have been used domestically, as nutmeg has a more intense and tasty flavour when grated from the whole seed, rather than using the pre-powdered spice.
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