The spiciness of pepper is an extremely pleasant, gentle spicy taste that has a strong pervasive power
Originating from India, pepper has been an important spice in Indian cooking since 2000 years ago. Later, following the Silk Road, pepper has another 2000 years to complete its world conquest following the great travelers.
In the 15th century, if a Westerner met an Easterner, they would probably ask each other at least once during their conversation, “Do you have any pepper?”. After being discovered in the Malabar region of India since BC, pepper made a 4,000-year journey by western merchants to the kitchens of the world today.
Medieval “black gold”
Pepper is a small fruit, after harvesting, the green fruits are dried in the sun until the fruit is shriveled and dark brown in color. Not fussy in the processing stage, just breaking the tough, tiny shell, the pungent flavor of pepper will rush straight into the user’s senses, giving off the flavor of seemingly pale dishes. That fascinated Western diners when some Eastern merchants brought pepper to this land for the first time.
In the Middle Ages, pepper was highly valued as a kind of “black gold” that only the wealthy could afford to own. Spending is considered an ideal currency to be used to pay rent, taxes and dowry because it can be kept for a long time by drying and is convenient to carry around.
European demand for pepper played a large part in the development of the eastern sea routes in the 15th century. At that time, compared to the same weight as gold, the value of pepper was higher. . The famous Portuguese explorer, Vasco de Gama, set sail to find new lands in the hope of finding pepper and bringing back wealth. And he discovered a trade route with India as he circled south to Africa. The birth of this route began Portuguese domination of pepper until the 18th century. After the discovery of the Americas, the Massachusetts seaport in turn quickly became rich by importing black pepper.
Medicine in medicine
The Indians were the first to discover the powerful digestive-promoting properties of pepper, by stimulating the stomach to produce intestinal enzymes that aid digestion. Later in medical studies, pepper has proven to stimulate the nervous system, blood circulation, keep hands and feet warm when cold, and mucous membranes of the nose. Patients with respiratory failure often need gas to clear their nasal passages. These benefits explain why pepper has automatically entered the ranks of the healing weapons of Hippocrates, the father of ancient medicine.
During the Han Dynasty, the royal palaces often had walls plastered with pepper powder, called Tieu Phong. Pepper powder not only keeps the room warm, always smells pleasant, but also has the ability to repel insects. This ability has been applied in garden care. Just mix half a teaspoon of pepper with a liter of warm water and spray it on plants or sprinkle a stream of black pepper on the ground to prevent ants, insects, even cockroaches and butterflies from entering the room.
The power of food
What makes pepper such a favorite spice around the world is its culinary contribution. Pepper in the dish can be likened to a gentleman, not overwhelming other ingredients but also creating an environment for other spices to stand out. This is because pepper contains a substance called piperine, which makes it easier for the human body to absorb nutrients derived from food. The spicy taste of pepper is an extremely pleasant, gentle spicy taste that has a strong pervasive power. Pepper does not make people “tears” like chili, does not make someone “choke” like mustard. But that doesn’t mean it’s bland. The spicy taste of pepper, even with any dish, will be just right, enough to clear the nasal cavity with a pleasant scent spreading in the palate. A marinated or marinated dish without a little pepper will make the processor “sorry”, because the finished dish will not have any flavor. Stir-fried dishes or bowls of soup, hot porridge bowls without a little green pepper sprinkled on, will also become pale. Especially in Vietnamese cuisine, there are certain dishes that have to be consumed by default. Fish braised with pepper, braised meat with pepper, it looks so simple, it sounds normal to hear the name, but if you cook it by mistake and taste it wrong, you will also lose flavor, just eat it lightly. That richness is the crystallization of many typical spices, in which pepper is an indispensable ingredient.
Today, with expanded production, pepper is no longer an expensive spice wrapped only in the silk bags of the elite, but appears in almost every family around the world. Lower value does not mean “disgraced”. Through many hands of merchants from the East to the West, pepper is still the spice that accounts for a quarter of all spices traded in the modern world. It can be said that the world map is more complete where there is pepper.
Four common types of pepper today are black pepper, green pepper, white pepper and red pepper. All three types of black pepper, green pepper and white pepper are harvested from the same tree, the color of which varies depending on the stage of picking and processing. Black pepper is the most commonly used because it has the most pungent smell.
Types of pepper
Black pepper is a native plant of Malabar (India) – the center of trade for pepper since time immemorial. Over thousands of years, black pepper has traveled the world, becoming one of the most loved spices in cuisine. Currently, Vietnam is the largest producer and exporter of black pepper in the world.