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It was called ‘Black Gold’: Black pepper joins salt at the dinner table

Black pepper is today an indispensable spice in every kitchen. It’s the most commonly used spice in the world (salt, being a mineral, is not a spice). Black pepper originated from Southern India around the city Kerala where it was often referred to as “black gold” and was of great importance as a traditional medicine. Peppercorns were found in the nostrils of Pharaoh Ramses II.

Black pepper became a common household condiment, taking an interesting and intriguing journey to reach its ease of use today: reach for a shaker and there it is.

Signs of an ancient pepper trade from India to Egypt have been found and by 40 AD, the Romans had a thriving trade in spices including pepper. Over the next few hundred years, black pepper’s popularity and value skyrocketed. Rome, prior to its fall, paid 3,000 pounds of pepper as part of a cease-fire negotiations.

The Arabs then took over the spice trade and by the Middle Ages many other groups had joined the lucrative trade. By the end of th...

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