Pepper in history

Pepper: How it became world-famous

Black pepper came to Europe later than the long pepper we know less today. It was during the time of Alexander the Great of Macedonia. That was in the era of ancient Greek history. Since then, it has been one of the most popular spices. It is still in every household worldwide. And almost every dish is flavored with it. Today as then, we appreciate it not only for his seasoning power but also for his hypotensive, anti-inflammatory, preservative, and germicidal properties.

At that time, there was much speculation in Europe about whether the white and black pepper came from the same plant or whether the black pepper was even charred white pepper. Despite the wild speculation, all three types of pepper were used equally. Even then, black pepper was a little cheaper than the other varieties. The middle class and legionnaires primarily used pepper.

During the Middle Ages, black pepper became even more popular. He blossomed into a real status symbol. During your masses, priests warned of excessive pepper consumption and did the opposite. Pepper became popular. It was like prime time advertising. At that time, everyone visited the mass and thus learned about peppercorns from the priest. The curiosity of the people was awakened, and everyone wanted to have it and try it. And since it is good, the demand for working remained great.

The discovery of the spice route

At the time of the Roman Empire, the spices only came to Europe by land on the trade routes. The trade-in spices and especially pepper was firmly in the hands of Arab and Persian traders. In the 15th century, the prices of Indian gold rose to astronomical heights.

For the Europeans, it was finally necessary to find a sea route to India to get the precious berries and other spices. They no longer wanted to be dependent on the Arab traders and their trading rod. They tried to destroy their monopoly. The only way to do that was to find a way across the sea to India. So Portugal and Spain decided to send the most powerful seafaring nations of the time to their sailors. The Spaniards send Columbus and the Portuguese Vasco da Gama to find peppercorns.

Christopher Columbus did not discover India on his trip. He found America on his western route. There he found chili and Jamaican pepper. The Portuguese Vasco da Gama managed to find the coveted spice route to India. He went ashore on May 20, 1498, after a problematic ten-month voyage in Calicut at the southern tip of India. On his way, he bypassed the Cape of Good Hope, along the East African coast to Malindi and then over to Calicut.

Portugal becomes the most powerful trading nation in Europe.

On 09.09.1499, Vasco da Gama returned to Lisbon with various spice samples on board. His return journey was more complicated and took 1.5 years. Many severe storms around the Cape of Good Hope and famines were the reason for the extended return trip. But its success brought great wealth to Portugal. In the following 100 years, it became the most powerful trading nation in Europe. From now on, spices were bought cheaply directly in India and sold very expensive in Europe. Everyone who traded in spices made a lot of money. This money was then invested even more profitably in spice plantations. Thus, after a short time, many Indian farms were in Portuguese possession.

During the 17th century, Portugal gradually lost its dominance in the spice trade. The Dutch contested the spice plantations in bloody battles. In the end, England ousted other colonial powers from India in the 18th century. They held power until India's independence on August 15, 1947.

Pepper cultivation & processing

Particular types of pepper - plants profile - cultivation countries