Salt seems to have been at least as important as pepper.
From the Wikipedia page on the Economic History of Venice :
> According to economic historian Jan De Vries, Venice's economic power in the Mediterranean had declined significantly by the start of the 17th century. De Vries attributes this decline to the loss of the spice trade, a declining uncompetitive textile industry, competition in book publishing due to a rejuvenated Catholic Church, the adverse impact of the Thirty Years' War on Venice's key trade partners, and the increasing cost of cotton and silk imports to Venice.
> De Vries attributes this decline to the loss of the spice trade
Vasco de Gama’s discovery of a sea-route to the spice lands ... in 1498 ... destroyed the economies of Alexandria, Genoa and Venice
Sure, you could read that as: "Venice's economy was destroyed the moment de Gama set foot on the spice lands", but it seems an equally, if not more, valid reading (and much more generous and reasonable), to assume what is meant is that de Gama's discovery eventually destroyed those economies...as in, it was an inflection point that tipped the scales in Portugal's favor and helped begin the processes that directly lead to the incumbents' declines.
Reasonable given that no one expects economies of empires to be destroyed overnight. With empire-scale reserves, and monopoly advantages the process could reasonably take a century, of course (and a century being roughly the span from 1498 to the 17th century). And generous given that, since the decline date is so easily found on a resource as common as Wikipedia, it's unlikely they are mistaken by not being erudite enough.
The lack of elaborating temporal detail is even less damning, given the economy the article seems to want to take with words, sparing a mere two sentences on large swathes of history. With this sort of compact language, who can expect them to pedantically agonize over removing every possible divergent interpretation, and achieve unequivocal precision?
I think the more likely situation is the article is perfectly accurate on that point, and you've simply read an inaccuracy into it by misinterpreting the authors' omission of absolute precision as error.
The widespread use of chilli as a spice in Indian cooking would also have an economic aspect to it, I'm sure.
Fun fact: the one place (speaking for Southern India) where you're likely to find cooking that uses only indigenous (pre-chilli -- ergo pre 16th century) ingredients is any kind of Hindu religious ceremony or celebration associated with death, be it a funeral or a death anniversary. That stuff tastes OK, some of it is great. All told, I'd rather have food tainted by "modern" ingredients than not.
Edit: qualified the "celebrations and ceremonies" bit
There are South Indian foods and snacks like venpongal and methu vadai that use whole peppercorn, not chili peppers. Tomato is another colonialism byproduct, but there are still people who make versions that use lemons instead of tomatoes. A common homemade drink for sick people is made from grinding dried ginger, coriander seeds, and black pepper. These are all daily foods. But you're right, few households or restaurants are 100% free of these 400 year old import crops.
Obviously, chili pepper is used where peppercorn or ground black pepper used to be, for the reasons in the parent comment. It also makes sense that black pepper would have been used in various dishes because it enhances the potency of the medicinal properties of turmeric by an order of magnitude. It wouldn't be hard to go back to black pepper, I imagine, with a little retooling of recipes to rebalance flavors.
Even the quintessentially southern Idli is rumoured to be a 12th century import brought down to the south by migrating Saurashtrians. (Mentioning this over other theories, since it seems to have the strongest documentary evidence). That isn't going to stop me enjoying my Idli with Sambar (which too is apparently a culinary import!).
By and large, cultural exchange makes the world a richer place. Are there unsavoury parts to human history? Yes. Even the Cholas (for example) conquered and colonized lands far away from where they were born, did they not?
I was pointing out that specifically in the case of chili spice, I don't think it's good for the body. There are data to support the idea that eating large amounts of capsaicin is harmful to the body:
Meanwhile, go to the vitamin supplement section of your nearest store, look at the ingredients of turmeric tablets, and you'll see they have a disclaimer that they have trace amounts of black pepper to magnify the effect of turmeric.
Everything else you said is fine by me because I wasn't arguing for it or against it.
Oranges and millets probably came from China, bananas probably came from SE Asia (and these things probably before the Sangam age, which is before the Pallavas and the height of the Cholas, so clearly exchange was happening for longer than we know).
A slight correction to what you said, idli came from a Pallava king in the 13th century who married a bride from a Indonesia who in turn brought along cooks who liked using rice. They combined rice with lentils to make idli:
To be clear, I know that rice has been grown in South Asia since the time of the Indus Valley Civilization (>= 4500 years ago), but all I'm saying is specifically about idli.
Pepper spray. ;)
How exactly the potato made it there from Spanish, Portugeuse and early English expeditions around 1500, and the lag time until it became commonplace there I am not quite clear.
It has changed my entire life in the kitchen.
Unicorn Mills Magnum ($59) http://www.unicornmills.org/magnum-plus.html
I have not tested either, though I have heard of the Mannkitchen Pepper Cannon and from what I know it is probably the best one you can get if you are not concerned with price. We are talking high-volume output, only one or two pumps needed per dish. Or as they say in the marketing, "Pepper your steak in 7 cranks instead of 70." Comparison video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25IO6GJ3zfg
Of course, the classic pepper mill is the Peugeot Paris, available here in every size from 3 inches to 30 inches (don't buy from Amazon, there are a bunch of counterfeits): https://us.peugeot-saveurs.com/en_us/paris-mills
I did a bunch of pepper mill research not too long ago - AMA.
Mid-year at the earliest...
That Unicorn can't compete either, btw. Grind rate is much slower and it's made of plastic.
Männkitchen's marketing sounds exaggerated...until you use the product. It's just unreal.
I've bought two more for folks whose kitchens I occasionally cook in. It puts out a massive rain of pepper with a comfortable cranking motion. I would not trade it for a $200 pepper grinder.
If it breaks, I will just get another one for $13.
If I have a lot of pepper to grind, I'd use an electric spice grinder.
"But, will there be too much pepper?"
"No. There will be the exact amount of pepper you want, ground more consistently, in a fraction of the time."
I mean for $200 let’s mill that bitch out of a solid block of Ti and give it tungsten carbide burrs…okay that’s probably a $1000 kitchen status symbol.
First, if you use a mortar and pestle, peppercorns will randomly fly out. This is not convenient.
Second, it will take you a long-ass time. This is also not convenient.
Third, you will have basically no control over evenness of grind/crush. And that evenness helps.
I know the $200 will make many folks blanche, but I'm telling you, that all melts away once you use this thing. :)
> Black pepper tastes strongest when freshly ground although pre-ground pepper is often used in seasonings for convenience. White pepper is less aromatic than black pepper but has special applications, as in white sauces where black pepper would give them an undesirable speckled appearance
For what it’s worth, when cooking a white sauce, I just live with the speckled appearance – though I could be tempted to try see how it tastes with pre-ground white pepper.
Compared to the $10/lb pepper I get locally, the $40/lb stuff is noticeably better, and I end up using a bit less of it. It's not a major expense for me -- a pound lasts nearly a year at my usage rate, which is about the point where I'd be worried about freshness anyway -- so, while I agree the cost-per-unit-weight difference is significant and even ridiculous, the cost-per-meal difference is in the noise for me personally.
As a Preservative: The value of pepper as a natural preservative for meat and other perishable foods has been known for centuries. Studies have shown that this is due to the anti-oxidant and anti-microbial properties present in pepper.
I couldn't come up with any examples of foods preserved using black pepper obviously, but that might just be cultural filtering (I'm from northern Europe).
Googling says "jams, pickles, preserves and candies" which was not very helpful.
But usually most hams have the "cut" part covered in ground salt and black pepper anyway.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of the spice trade, it's well worth a read.
Those are not medicinal uses.