By Robert Wernick
What on this planet can be so impressive approximately pepper that males willingly died for it? in case you amplify your old horizon a section, and glance again quite a few centuries, there's not anything in any respect weird and wonderful in regards to the obstinacy of these pepper seekers. They have been facing one of many nice rationale forces of human occasions. heavily research any of the good occasions that experience formed the area as we all know it – the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, the Crusades, the invention of the USA – and sometimes as now not you will discover a stinky scent of pepper at its center. the following the tale of pepper, in short informed by means of award- profitable journalist Robert Wernick.
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Extra resources for Pepper. A History
65 a pound in 1950. Today it is about a dollar. It is hard to think of cost, though, when so little of it goes so far. An ounce of pepper will, according to the most up-to-date calculations, season 1,440 eggs. Consumption of pepper in the United States has been rising steadily from 14,000 tons a year in 1950 to more than 40,000 today. This is partly a matter of changing lifestyles. People eat in restaurants more, and there is always a peppershaker, or the currently more fashionable pepper mill, there.
Pepper was the thing for any man who valued his social position: “He hath no pepper” came to be the most curt and decisive phrase to identify a medieval nobody. A pound of pepper in those days was worth, roughly, one sheep. Pepper was used for dowries, for taxes, to pay off soldiers – as when every member of the Genoese army, which captured Caesarea in Palestine in 1101, got two pounds of pepper as a reward. Judges were bribed with it, rents were paid with it, city accounts in the ledger books were calculated in peppercorns.
Eventually explorers in the New World would also discover dozens of varieties of peppery plants belonging to the genus Capsicum: sweet bell peppers, paprika, jalapenos, cayenne peppers, the Bahamian peppers that set the mouth on fire - all of which have in common that they have no relation whatever to the piper nigrum, which Columbus was being paid to find. While Columbus was doing his best to delude his patrons, other explorers beating their way around Africa in the early sixteenth century at last found their way to the true source of pepper: the Malabar Coast of India and the island of Sumatra.