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peppercorns 2Black pepper is one of the more common spices in the world today. It is a basic ingredient in most meat and savory dishes around the globe. The fruit grows on a dark green climbing vine. Its’ white flowers form spikes that develop into small, green berries. The fruits or peppercorns as they are called turn red as they ripen. Peppers are some of the oldest spices in the world, originating in India at least 4000 years ago. In Sanskrit, India’s oldest language the spice was referred to as pippeli. By the time Latin was developed the word was translated to piper, eventually becoming Pepper in the English language.

As people traveled small batches of pepper trickled into the Mediterranean area. Initially brought over by the Arabs who bought spices from trade caravans they soon ended up in Europe. As a unique trait pepper has an unmistakably strong smell. Europeans welcomed its advent, by then it was the most expensive spice ever sold in the world .By 400 B.C. ancient Rome was sold out on pepper. The spice was employed both as medicine and as a flavoring in food. Its lucrative nature prompted the Roman Emperor Domitian to build a spice market in the Roman Forum around A.D. 90. He named the primary road leading into the market Via Piperatica or Pepper Way.

The world’s largest importer of pepper is the United States. Annual figures for the worlds pepper market is about 500 million dollars. Peppers are used in many dishes including stews, soups pickles and marinades, you name it the list is exhaustive. People use it to sprinkle and flavor their foods. A meat lover especially of the juicy steak knows that the black peppercorn enhances their food. Pepper came to the Caribbean via the slave trade, eventually becoming a small cash crop on certain islands.

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