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Friday, 27 January 2017

Pepper

HISTORY 

The 1st century AD Roman gourmet Marcus Gavius Apicius spent vast sums to satisfy his craving for exotic foods and wrote ten books on the art of cooking which were summarized in De Re Coquinaria ("On Cookery").

Apicus' recipes included numerous spices including pepper intended to preserve food, aid the digestion, and improve the flavor of the dull Roman fare. "Sprinkle with pepper and serve" was the last step in a recipe for diced pork and apples from one cookbook. He even recommended the use of pepper in sweet desserts.

When the Visigoths attacked Rome in 408, their leader Alaric I demanded a ransom part of which was 3,000 lbs of the much-prized spice, pepper. This payoff was his price for sparing the population from death.

Pepper
Pepper was such a valuable commodity in medieval Europe that there were instances of men selling their wives in exchange for it.

The small, round Chiltepin chilli pepper was used as a tax payment by the Aztecs, paid to their emperors.

Christopher Columbus brought back chili peppers from the Americas. He wrote in his log, "there is also plenty of ají, which is their pepper, which is more valuable than [black] pepper, and all the people eat nothing else, it being very wholesome".

After bringing back chili peppers from America, Diego Álvarez Chanca the physician and companion of Columbus discovered their medicinal properties, and developed a chutney to administer them.

Chili Pepper

Three years after Vasco Da Gama's journey to India 100 tons of spice arrived in Portugal. As a result pepper sold in Lisbon was five times cheaper than in Venice.

In Elizabethan England, pepper was sold by the individual grain and guards on the London docks had their pockets sewn up so they couldn't steal any spices.

THE PLANT

The Black pepper is a plant that is grown to produce the dried fruit called the peppercorn, and the ground pepper derived from it.


Peppercorn

The smaller the peppercorn the hotter it tastes, but as they grow they lose a little heat while their aroma intensifies.

Vietnam is the world’s leading exporter of black pepper, producing 34% of the world's supply in 2013.

The genus Capsicum is of the nightshade family. It includes the Chili pepper which is the one most often used as a vegetable.

The most popular sweet pepper in the United States is the bell pepper.

As bell peppers mature, their color changes from green to red and they become sweeter.

Bell Pepper

There is a pepper grown in Japan called the Shishito pepper. Only 1 out of 10 is spicy and there's no way of knowing beforehand.

Red, green, and yellow peppers are all the same species of plants that are in different stages of ripening.

In 2012, the Trinidad moruga “Scorpion” pepper was rated the hottest pepper in the world at 1.2 million Scoville units.

Source Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

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