Pepper, obtained from the vine "Piper nigrum" is the most widely traded spice in the world, and has been so for more than 3,000 years. It represents more than 25% of the world trade in spices and yet is produced in only a handful of countries within 15 degrees of the equator. India is the largest producer from the Malabar Coast of SW India, but Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia are also important producers. Pepper has also been cultivated in the New World and Brasil is a major exporter.
Pepper was used in ancient Egypt and in Roman times, supplied by Arab sea traders who kept the source secret. Later it was supplied overland along the Silk Road. At one point the Greeks, and later the Romans learned of the source of this valuable spice and the race was on. The competition for this valuable spice has been fierce for over 2,000 years and spurred exploration and discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus who was disappointed that he did not find the "Spice Islands" instead.
During the Middle Ages when the trade was monopolized by the Portuguese and later the Dutch, pepper was so valuable that it was worth more than gold by weight, and individual peppercorns were widely accepted as legal currency. (Now there was a civilization that had their priorities right.) Workers who handled pepper were issued clothes without pockets or cuffs to prevent theft.
Luckily, in the modern world pepper is now grown in many locations and readily available from a variety of sources. Like any other agricultural product, quality can vary widely and the constant impetus to reduce costs makes some products less satisfactory than others.
At Sir Spice our emphasis is on finding suppliers who when sourcing their product, place flavor and quality ahead of low cost and high output. Our selection and quality is unequaled.
Give us a try and you will see!