Cinnamon harvested in Vietnam is actually called cassia. (“True” cinnamon is actually much milder than what we have grown accustomed to, in this country.) In small villages in Vietnam, people grind the older bark that is lower to the ground, rich in pungent oils and just more so than the branches above it. This ground cassia is shipped to Seattle, and sold to me at World Spice.
It sits now in our kitchen, a pinch ready to mingle amidst apples to make a truly extraordinary pie. If we need cinnamon, for Moroccan dishes, we use only this “Saigon cinnamon” from World Spice, now. The cinnamon I lived with for three decades before this feels flat and dulled on my tongue.
We try to buy it in tiny amounts, however — Saigon cinnamon is so strong that only 1/8 of a teaspoon spices an entire dish — so that we can have that experience, again and again, of returning to the spice store, together, to share new tastes.