Ginger is used extensively as a cooking ingredient or spice in Asian cuisine and others. It is part of mainstream western food in ginger beer and desserts such as gingerbread and ginger snaps (a type of cookie). Though generally called "root", it is actually the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinalis.
Young ginger roots are juicy and fleshy with a very mild taste. They are often pickled in vinegar as a snack or just cooked as an ingredient in many dishes. Mature ginger roots are fibrous and nearly dry. The juice from old ginger roots is extremely hot and is often used as a spice in Chinese cooking to cover up other strong odors and flavors such as in seafood and mutton.
Ginger is also made into candy, is used as a flavoring for cookies and cake, and is the main flavor in "ginger ale", a sweet, carbonated, non-alcoholic beverage.
Dried and powdered ginger is used to add spiciness to gingerbread and other recipes. It tastes quite different from fresh ginger, and they cannot be substituted for each other.