This warm, sweet spice comes from the bark of a tree native to Sri Lanka. The bark is removed, dried and rolled up to make a tube. Cinnamon is sold dry as sticks and ground as a powder.
It's best to buy ground cinnamon in small quantities because the freshness and flavour quickly disappear. You can try to grind your own cinnamon from the bark but it's difficult to get it fine enough.
Ground cinnamon is gorgeous cooked with apples or in baked goods such as buns, cakes, sweet pastries and puddings. Mexicans also used it to flavour chocolate dishes and drinks. Cinnamon bark is added to poaching syrup for fruits such as pears, plums and bananas and to mulled wine or punch. Cinnamon bark is also used to flavour meat, poultry and vegetable stews and can be added to spicy marinades.