As far back as Ancient Rome, pepper was valued for its taste qualities. From the earliest times, faith has also been placed in its medicinal properties – even Hippocrates wrote about these. At one time, it was worth its weight in gold, yet later became the condiment of choice for the poor. These days, it’s difficult to imagine European cuisine without it.
It arouses memories of childhood in us. It adds a touch of magic to desserts such as ice cream, cakes and crèmes. It dampens the flavour of other spices, tempers bitterness and adds charm to cocktails. It can be found in perfumes and candle and tobacco fragrances. How did it end up on our tables? Why are its flowers pollinated by hand? What is vanillism? How much do you know about vanilla, one of the noblest and most expensive spices in the world?
References to cinnamon can be found in the Bible and on Egyptian papyri, not to mention in Shennong’s legendary 5000-year-old herbal. Shennong was a mythical Chinese emperor and hero of Chinese mythology. His name means “Divine Farmer” as, according to tradition, he taught the people to cultivate many plants. He was also the originator of medicine and trade. Popular legend also credits him with the discovery of the art of tea brewing.
Everything began with Christopher Columbus’ vision and desire to find an ocean passage to India. As we know, he unwittingly found something else but it all turned out well in the end, for it is from America that the pepper comes. He named it “pimiento”, since it was stronger and sharper in taste than the already familiar spice produced from peppercorns.