Aframomum melegueta is a species in the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. This spice, commonly known as grains of paradise, melegueta pepper, alligator pepper, Guinea grains or Guinea pepper, is obtained from the ground seeds; it gives a pungent, peppery flavor. Although it is native to West Africa, it is an important cash crop in the Basketo special woreda of southern Ethiopia. Grains of paradise are commonly employed in the cuisines of West and North Africa. Grains of paradise became a very fashionable substitute for black pepper in 14th- and 15th-centuries in Europe, especially in northern France. Today, it is largely unknown outside of West and North Africa, except for its use as a flavoring in some beers (including Samuel Adams Summer Ale), gins, and Norwegian akvavit.
In America, Grains of Paradise are starting to enjoy a slight resurgence in popularity due to their use by some well-known chefs. Alton Brown is a fan of its use, and he uses it in his apple pie recipe on an episode of the TV cooking show “Good Eats.” They are also used by people on certain diets, such as a raw food diet, because they are less irritating to digest than black pepper.
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