The Great Motivator - Peppercorns

It has been said that Helen of Troy was so beautiful that she launched a thousand ships but her affect on history pales in comparison to the lowly peppercorn. To fully understand why men (and women) down through the ages have so valued peppercorns is not something that anyone can express with words. I can tell you the simple facts that peppercorns have been in use since prehistoric times and every generation of man have eagerly sought after them but to truly appreciate why, you just have to do this. Throw together some olive oil,  cracked pink or black peppercorns, garlic, salt and herbs.  Rub this mixture on a couple of sirloins and let it marinate for a while. Then grill to your liking, sit down and devour! The exact recipe is on the web site listed below.

If you have never enjoyed a peppercorn steak you are truly missing out on one of the joys of life. In fact, there are a whole host of recipes for peppercorn chicken, peppercorn pork and a variety of others that you simply must put on your bucket list. When you have experienced these joys you can now count yourself among many historic figures and events.

Black peppercorns have been found in some of the most ancient caves of the Neanderthal and Cro Magnon humans. They were found in the sarcophagus of Ramesses II. Peppercorns were known and enjoyed by the Greeks as early as the 4th Century BCE. The trade routes of the time were so difficult that the pleasures of peppercorns were probably enjoyed only by the rich. However, by the time of the Roman Empire and particularly the conquest of Egypt regular trade routes to and from the Malabar Coast of India brought the pleasures of peppercorns to the masses of Rome. While these trips took a year to complete
and possessed a level of difficulty unheard of today the people of Rome were more than willing to pay a steep price to enjoy this unique spice.

After the fall of Rome trade battles erupted between the Arabs and the Europeans for control of the trade and by the end of the dark ages the land routes of the spice trade were firmly under Islamic control. However, once the spice was into the  Mediterranean the great maritime powers of Italy most particular Venice and Genoa, commanded the lion share of the trade and from this trade their great city states evolved.

The exorbinant prices charged by the Italians to the rest of the Western Europe for the enjoyment of this wonderful delicacy was the primary factor that motivated men such as Vasco Da Gama and Columbus. Da Gama as history teaches us was the first to sail around the horn of Africa in search of a sea route to India with the primary goal of searching for "Christians and Spices" as his representative stated when ask why they had come to India. Columbus, of course, decided to go west in his search for a sea route to the land of spices and the rest is the history we all know.

Helen was indeed probably a beautiful woman and many have fought battles and died for beautiful women but not even female beauty has motivated the mind of the human race and so changed the course of human history like that of the King of Spices, the peppercorn. Think about that the next time you sink your teeth into a juicy peppercorn steak!

Ron McKinney
1-24-2011

Wikipedia's page on Peppercorns 

Wikipedia's page on Black Pepper
 

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