It turns out that kamut has a very interesting story. It is a big fat humpbacked kernel, as you can see from the picture, related to durum wheat. I learned from an informative Purdue website that the name is trademarked by a Montana wheat farmer named T. Mack Quinn. The name comes from the ancient Egyptian word for wheat. And what a story it has:
Following WWII, a US airman claimed to have taken a handful of this grain from a stone box in a tomb near Dashare, Egypt. Thirty-six kernels of the grain were given to a friend who mailed them to his father, a Montana wheat farmer. The farmer planted and harvested a small crop and displayed the grain as a novelty at the local fair. Believing the legend that the giant grain kernels were taken from an Egyptian tomb, the grain was dubbed "King Tut's Wheat." But soon the novelty wore off and this ancient grain was all but forgotten.But leave it to time and the desire to promote sustainable agriculture for this grain to come back. And then some: it's very sweet tasting, with superior qualities, such as containing up to 65% more amino acids and more lipids and fatty acids than regular wheat. The most striking superiority is its protein level: more than 40% higher than the national average for wheat. How it came back into the mainstream is also very interesting (also from the Purdue website):
In 1977, one remaining jar of "King Tut's Wheat" was obtained by T. Mack Quinn, who with his son Bob, an agricultural scientist and plant biochemist, soon perceived the value of this unique grain. They spent the next decade propagating the humped-backed kernels originally selected from the small jar. Their research revealed that wheats of this type originated in the fertile crescent area which runs from Egypt to the Tigris-Euphrates valley.If you read the Purdue link in full, you'll find that scientists don't agree at all about where it originated, but it sure tastes good, I can vouch for that. And with all that other good stuff, it is also resistant to pests so needs little to no pesticides and fertilizers. It's easily grown by organic farmers, so I'm an instant fan. It should become more and more popular as the word gets out.