Today’s Word Search: Oysters to wasabi… did you know the ingredients on your plate are prehistoric?

Saffron pigments were used in cave art over 50,000 years ago Image Credit: Stock photo/Pixabay

No matter where you’re from, there’s one topic that will never disappoint when you want to break the ice and connect with other people – food!

Foodies, click start to play today’s Word Search. Also, have you checked out Gulf News’ Food section? Head over there to immerse yourself in a world of food – from recipes to stories and guides.

Meanwhile, in today’s puzzle, taste flavours from all around the world.

First up is oyster, which is one of the earliest foods eaten by humankind. Archaeologists have found fossilized oyster shells from several coastal civilisations, dating back to the Stone Age. For instance, a cave in South Africa showed evidence of oyster dinners from 164,000 years ago! But it was the Greeks who became the first to cultivate oysters and eat them as a delicacy in the 13th century BC. If you like this delicacy, you may enjoy our summer recipe for grilled oysters.

Another delicious item that is one of the oldest known horticultural crops is garlic. According to the US Agricultural Research Service, there is historical evidence for its use by the Babylonians 4,500 years ago, and Egyptian and Indian cultures 5,000 years ago. This member of the onion family grows wild in Central Asia and is also produced in China and India. Today, cuisines across the world – from Italian to Indian – use garlic liberally in their dishes, as it pairs incredibly well with most vegetables and meats. Try making focaccia bread, where garlic is a key ingredient or make a meal out of garlicky curried mung beans.

A fascinating word in today’s puzzle is saffron, a spice with a rich history, obtained from the flower of the crocus sativus. But interestingly, it wasn’t always used for food. Saffron-based pigments have been found in paints used to depict beasts in Iraqi cave art that is approximately 50,000 years old! The cultivation of saffron dates back to more than 3,000 years, and although it is native to Greece and Iran, it is also grown in Morocco and India. Saffron is considered the world’s costliest spice by weight. It takes 4,500 flowers to make just one ounce (28 grams) of saffron because each flower comprises only three saffron strands! The fragrant spice is used in a variety of foods. Try a fusion dessert recipe for churros with saffron rabri or a savoury chicken with saffron rice.

Lastly, wasabi, too, has interesting origins. The wasabi plant is a relative of mustard, cabbage and radish, and was first used by the Japanese medicinally, rather than as a condiment. It was served along with sushi or sashimi, because it was thought to prevent digestive issues or food poisoning from the raw fish. Modern science proved this theory right! Wasabi contains allyl isothiocyanate, a natural insecticide. Enjoy wasabi prawns with this quick recipe.

Head over to the Word Search and discover more food related words. Don’t forget to tell us if you enjoyed it at