‘The history of spices,’ says a leading expert ‘is the history of pepper’. Use of the ‘king of spices’ probably originated in India over 4,000 years ago and has spread throughout the world. Wherever people live or travel, you’ll find them using pepper; even, in liquid form, aboard the Space Shuttle!
The uses of pepper aren’t just culinary. Peppercorns, the original ‘black gold’, were used as currency in ancient and mediaeval times, when a ‘peppercorn rent’ was in fact a sizeable sum.
Pepper has a wide variety of attributed medical properties. It has been used as a stimulant and appetizer, a digestive and antiflatulent. It is said to calm nausea and raise body temperature, making it useful for treating chills and fever.