The meaning of Zangvil

The Zangvil family name was originally Ingwer.
When grandfather Eliezer came to Israel in
1934 he still kept that name. After getting married in
1938, he changed the name to Zangvil.

Hebrew Zangvil, German Ingwer, English ginger, French gingembre and practically all other names of ginger in European languages can, at first, be traced back to Lating zingiber, which was in turn a loan from Greek (zingiberis [ζιγγβερις]). Following further, we arrive in India, which was Europe's source of ginger in antiquity: The Greek name zingiberis [ζιγγβερις] is, in fact, quite an accurate representation of the name of ginger in Indic languages spoken at the same time: Prakrit

singabera and Pali singiver. These names derive from Sanskrit shringavera, which can (folk-etymologically)  be explained to mean shaped like a deer's antler (horn), but it is now thought to be a loan from a Dravidic tongue of South India, where the word can be broken down to inci ginger + ver root). The form inci is still well conserved in some contemporary Dravidic languages (Tamil, Malayalam).

The Zangvil flower: The blooms are rarely seen, and are not showy and conspicuous.



World-wide, ginger is among the most important and valued spices, as the many synonyms indicate. Today, the plant grows in tropic regions all over the world and plays part in the local cuisines. In Europe, however, it is not common, although it had been an important spice in Roman times (see silphion for more information about the taste of ancient Rome). Fresh ginger (also called green ginger) is now easily available in Western countries.

Many people like raw ginger, and this is the form most popular in South East Asia: Fresh ginger is grated or finely chopped, optionally soaked in water for several hours, and then added to the dish not long before serving. This kind of usage will result in a fresh, spicy and pungent taste.

If fresh ginger is cooked, it will increase in pungency but decrease in freshness. Thais add grated ginger together with many other ingredients (in the the form of curry pastes) to their creamy coconut milk curries. Indonesians frequently use spice pastes based on fresh chiles and ginger to rub meat before grilling or baking (see lemon grass for a general discussion and lesser galangale for an example). Ginger tea, prepared by cooking slices of fresh ginger for a few minutes, is a spicy and healthy drink enjoyed in hot tropic climates (Indonesia), but also in the chill Himalayas (Sikkim).

Totally different is the flavour of fried ginger (preferred in India and Sri Lanka): If chopped ginger is fried (typically, together with garlic or onion), the hot and spicy taste gives way to a mild, rich flavour (see ajwain). Especially Northern Indian recipes make much use of this technique as the basis for delicious sauces to vegetable or meat dishes.

In Chinese cookery, fresh ginger is both used boiled and fried. Food that needs a long simmering time is often flavoured with slices of ginger, because the slices release their flavour quite slowly (see orange for an example and see also cassia on Chinese master sauces). On the other hand, stir-fries (food rapidly cooked in very hot oil, with constant stirring)

A great and well-known recipe of the latter kind is gong bao, also spelled kung pao: Cut chicken breasts are marinated in a thick mixture of egg white, soy sauce, rice wine and corn starch, which both acts as a marinade and provides a soft coating after frying. Dried red chiles are then fried in very hot oil until almost black; then, chopped ginger, garlic and the chicken pieces are tossed in. The meat is tender within a few minutes; after adding some hot bean paste and peanuts, the dish is ready to serve. With its liberal usage of chiles and fresh ginger, gong bao very well illustrates the cuisine of Sichuan, China's most spicy cooking style; see chile for another example.

Ginger has its place even in the cuisine of Japan, where it is used in small quantities only; for example, chicken is flavoured by rubbing it with juice obtained from squeezing fresh ginger rhizome. Pickled ginger (beni shouga), which owes its reddish-pink colour to perilla leaves, is prepared from very young ginger rhizomes; is often served with sushi (see wasabi).

Ginger, being today grown as a cash crop in both Africa and Latin America, has entered many local cuisines. Some recipes for Jamaican jerk paste (see allspice) use ginger, which is not surprising since Jamaica's ginger is of extraordinary quality.

Ginger ale is a soft drink that enjoys considerable popularity in the USA. Like root beer (see sassafras), it is not a fermented beer, but simply sugar, ginger extract and carbonated water. However, during the last centuries of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, ginger has also been used to flavour true beer, i.e., the alcoholic beverage obtained by fermenting malt; see also gale.

Dried ginger, on the other side, is rather different in taste and cannot substitute the fresh one. Dried ginger is an optional component of curry powders (see curry leaves) and even of the chinese five spice powder (see star anise); furthermore, it appears in berebere, a spice mixture from Ethiopia (see long pepper). See greater galangale for an Indonesian recipe using dried ginger.

Dried ginger is not much used in regions where fresh ginger is traditionally available. The taste is more aromatic than pungent and has found some applications in Europe, especially for spicy crackers; it furthermore enhances the taste of tasty gravies and soups. Ginger has, however, a little bit come out of use and is seldom called for in newer cook books, but it has been retained in the French spice mixture quatre épices, which goes back to baroque cooking styles; see nutmeg for the other ingredients of this very aromatic mixture.