Ginger is native to India and China. It takes its name from the Sanskrit word stringa-vera, which means “with a body like a horn”. Ginger has been important in Chinese and Indian medicines for many centuries, and is mentioned in the writings of Confucius. It was one of the earliest spice known in Western Europe, used since the ninth century. It became so popular in Europe that it was included in every table setting, like salt and pepper, a common article of medieval and Renaissance trade and it was one of the spices used against the plague. In English pubs and taverns in the nineteenth century, barkeepers put out small containers of ground ginger, for people to sprinkle into their beer – the origin of ginger ale. In order to ‘gee up’ a lazy horse, it is the time honoured practice of farmers to apply a pinch of ginger to the animal’s backside.