Saturday, February 23rd, 2013
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It was black pepper, primarily, that inspired most of mans great explorations with the Middle Ages, including the discovery of America. Black pepper started America’s invest the Orient and played a huge role in the early days of the United States. On June 23, 1672, the very first colonial American took a dynamic part in spice trading: Boston-born Elihu Yale, later to give his name and wealth towards the renowned University, arrived at Madras, India, as a clerk of the British East India Company. There he established contacts where he built a lot of money in spices. In 1780, Jonathan Carnes broke Europe’s spice monopoly by dealing directly while using East Indies and bringing a shipload of pepper time for Salem, Massachusetts. From 1799 to 1846, pepper, worth many millions of dollars, was exposed to Salem by daring Yankee skippers who founded America’s merchant marine.
Black pepper comes from the dried berry (known as a peppercorn) of a woody, climbing vine. Its scientific name is Piper nigrum L. There is absolutely no relation to the pod peppers which give us sweet green and red peppers and the hot capsicum peppers (chili). When Columbus dropped anchor within the New World in search of spices, he discovered chili peppers generating at least two mistakes we still accept. Thinking he what food was in India, he called indians Indians. He also named chilies peppers, thinking they were related to black pepper, Piper Nigrum, that they are not. The family of chili peppers is known as Capsicum.
In the pre-Columbian tribes of Panama, the Shaman (spiritual medium) used Capsicum in conjunction with cacao and tobacco to enter into hallucinatory trances, in order to travel to the celebrities or to the underworld. Today, the Cuna Indians of Panama burn capsicum and so the irritating smoke will chase away evil spirits throughout a girl’s puberty ceremony. Additionally, they trail a string of capsicum behind their canoes to discourage sharks from attacking, thus giving the earliest insight into the possible use of capsicum as a shark repellent.
In southern Mexico and also the Yucatan Peninsula, capsicums have been part of the human diet since about 7500 B.C. and therefore their use predates both the great central American civilizations, the Mayas as well as the Aztecs. From their original use as a spice collected in the wild, capsicums gained importance after their domestication, and were a substantial food when the Olmec culture was developing around 1000 B.C. As soon as the Mayas reached the height of their civilization in southern Mexico as well as the Yucatan Peninsula, around A.D. 500, that they had a highly developed system of agriculture. Perhaps up to thirty different types of Capsicum were cultivated.
The American wild chili peppers probably came from present-day Bolivia by means of birds dispersing the seeds, and ultimately spread throughout Central and South America. Chilies were a dominant part of early American diets. The archaeological record at Tehuacan, Mexico southeast of Mexico City, shows that wild peppers were eaten in Meso-America at least as far back as 7000 B.C., and were probably domesticated by 2500 B.C. Towards the Incas, chili peppers were among the four brothers with the creation myth, Agar-Uchu or Brother Chili Pepper.
Chilies were found when the Spanish explorers found the Caribbean. In the islands off of the New World they found little red-colored vegetable pods that this natives used in cooking and which imparted a clear, crisp bite to food. Peter Martyr, who located America with Columbus in 1493, wrote, You’ll find innumerable kinds of Agi (the Indian good name for pod peppers), the variety whereof is well known by their leaves and flowers. Some were red, some yellow, some violet, some brown, some white. They were of all shapes and sizes. The only real aromatic plants Columbus perfectly located at the Western World however, were capsicums: a good amount of Aji, (capsicum pepper), that’s more valuable than pepper, and allspice or pimenta, a tree whose leaf had the best smell of cloves that I ever met with, thus wrote Dr. Diego Chanca of Columbus expedition. For more info relating to Capsicum extract have a look at: capsicum extract to read more.
The podded Capsicum family become extremely adaptable in the event the explorers sent seeds back to Europe. In an amazingly limited time, the cultivation of Capsicum pods spread to almost every part of the world. Moreover, in lots of places the pods developed different characteristics pertaining to shape, color, size and pungency.
The arrival of capsicum from the New World coincided with the invasion with the Ottoman Turks and resulted in their spread all through Central Europe. The armies of Suleyman the Magnificent conquered Syria and Egypt in 1516-17, Yugoslavia in 1521, and Hungary in 1526. 4 seasons 1526 is the date usually given for that introduction of the capsicum called paprika into Hungary by the Turks. With this invasion a new crop was introduced to the land with the Magyars. The Turks called it Turkish Pepper, the Hungarians called it paparka, a variation on the Bulgarian piperka, which in turn was derived from the Latin piper, for pepper. The brilliant red powder we all know as paprika comes from the dried pods (fruit) from the plant species Capsicum annuum L. As such, it is part of a botanical group that ranges in the sweet Bell peppers we eat as a vegetable to the very hottest of chilies.