I was reading Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking the other night about spices. While many people know that Saffron's sweet earthy stigmas are the most expensive spice, commanding up to $5,000 USD/pound - I didn't know that Vanilla was the second at $200/pound and Cardamom was the third at $22/pound.
McGee mentions how Nordic countries often use Cardamom in baked goods. Supposedly the Vikings fell in love with the stuff a very very long time ago. I thought briefly. I know it goes in Chai Tea, and Garam Masala... but what else has Cardamom in it?
Apparently, 80% of the annual Cardamom crop (which is picked by hand - ergo the price) goes to Arab countries mostly for use in Gahwa, Cardamom Coffee. This is a big part of the culture, which was hitherto unbeknownst to me. From MapsofWorld.com:
The ritual of presenting gahwa begins when the host places a set of four coffee pots, called della. Next to an open fire he pours the coffee beans onto a mahmasa,