This transcript is automatically generated so may contain errors.
the, curiously of.
Hello and welcome back. We are doing another spice this episode a flavour so sought after that it literally changed the world.
Built fortunes, but took away countless lives.
And we always like to start the tasting, don't we? And we actually recorded this a couple of days ago.
It's always a surprise you don't know what the spice is, so we're going to head straight over to our high tech, environmentally controlled spice test centre.
You join us in our tasting lab where Anton is about to experience.
This spice he doesn't know what it is yet, but are you excited?
Yep, I am very excited. I've been looking forward to this for quite a long time now.
Yeah, so the acoustics might be a bit funny in our lab is a very specially controlled environment, but hopefully you'll be able to hear us.
OK, so there are four varieties of the spice that I've got for you here, and you've also got your mortar and pestle.
So I want you to start off with this one here.
Please on the.
End OK, so you can give it smell and have a look and what does it look like?
Can I take the?
I'm just going to quickly solve this.
I know, I know exactly what is.
I think it's it's melt pepper E. So is it like peppercorns is an egg?
It is peppercorns. What colour are they?
They look a little bit like tiny red berries.
Yeah, OK, so I put them in the.
Pesaran, water OK pour in here time for satisfying best from water sounds.
What's your dinner? I'll just do a bit of the science of pepper so you are correct. So they are peppercorns.
Now there are type of Berry or drupe. Now a group is a fruit with a single seed inside. So you can probably hear Anton with the UM like grinding up the spices there. So that's like Peaches or nutmeg. They're also droops, but Boston.
We're still arguing over whether the peppercorns are actually a Berry or drupe
They're not poisonous like major red berries.
Oh, that smells very nice actually. I'll just quickly show you.
Do you think I'm done there?
OK, yes, he's round up. So probably if you just wait your finger or something and give it a.
Little taste OK?
I'll have a slightly bigger bit.
Oh, I'm just reaching across to get.
Some myself, well, that tastes weird. I think I had an almost whole one.
Yeah, not the best way to eat them like this.
So I believe you can actually get these.
The red berries fresh.
But these are dried ones and they go a little bit.
Flaky, don't they? So you've got your drink there so that you can clear.
Your mouth, yeah.
Cloves are still at the top of the list spices, and if you haven't listened to that episode, make sure you do.
All right, next bit now.
He's emptying the second of the pots. Now what are these ones?
These ones look a little bit darker. They look like something has been done to them.
What colour are they?
Sort of blackie. Slightly green and brown sort of colour.
Yeah, they'll be green, so if red is fully right, what do you think green would be?
Very, very old.
Are there unripe? Yeah, so I haven't gone through the whole process. Yeah, now these have also been dried. It annoys me a bit as I actually found some fresh green ones last night. We didn't have time to order them for here.
Oh, so how do they smell compared to the red?
They smell similar. They smell like.
They smell slightly less.
Then the red ones like not like so strong, OK.
OK, do you wanna grind them up?
Yeah, that'd be right. So these should actually have a slightly milder taste as it doesn't fully develop until they become wiper.
Like like sort of tiny Brussels sprouts with slappies.
Speaking mushy peas then?
Did a bit of grinding there. It reminds me.
A little bit.
Of our courts medicine episode where you were?
Mashing up human brain.
Yeah, I think that's OK if you have a look at that.
Well, that's a little bit stronger. Wow, that's OK, it doesn't. It's stronger, but it doesn't taste as much as much as he other ones.
It's quite sharp that flavour to me. I like that little bit free to you as well.
OK, so now we're going to move on to the more common types of pepper, black and white. So if you open up the next Oh yeah, clean the castle first, yeah?
Yeah, I'm mad.
And after this, maybe because we got some of the remains of them, will try them all together. The ultimate peppercorn convoy.
Yeah, obviously they should be used in cooking, so this is an extreme wasted, but you could imagine traders who were going to buy this.
Back in I know the 1600s, they probably would have been trying the fresh pepper like this.
I'm not sure if you can hear this, but I just shook the thing and this sounds really nice.
Now what colour are these ones?
They are always completely black with the couple of like slightly brown ones they smell.
Like black pepper.
OK, these aren't any.
Ordinary peppercorns, though these are from Sarawak in northwestern Borneo, and they had grown in the rich soil or the mountains there, and actually regarded as some of the finest pepper in the world. And they were recently awarded in geographical indication status.
And that means that they're protected, so you can't call any other pepper in the world to rohrich pepper, so it's a bit like how champagne can only be grown in the champagne region, so this is you don't get better post, really.
OK, I think that's OK. I can't ground that for grind that down too much more.
Do you know how they turn black?
I'm not sure because I've just ground ground them down.
And they're quite white on the inside.
OK yeah, that's interesting, but you've seen the white there. Yeah, so they they're picked and then.
Is it strong?
Yeah, smell that actually I just wrap the whole thing together, yeah?
Wow, sounds weird.
Yeah, so they are picked from the from the vine and then they are laid out in the sun to dry and then that place.
This makes them ferment a little bit, and then the skins turn black as they dry and they shrivel up.
I'll try that.
Black pepper ring that tastes slightly different to regular black pepper. I don't know if it's because it's by itself.
That's really good. I like that a lot. Umso black pepper. It's the most paint and the strongest one of the hottest flavour. What gives pepper its heat is a compound called pipeline.
And most of that can be found in this skin, and when it comes when the compound is purified, it makes tiny yellowish needle like crystals.
And peppercorns contain about 5 to 9%.
Print and it's what's called an alkaloid, and it will stimulate the heat and pain receptors. Now do you know who discovered it and what they are more famous for?
I'm not sure actually, maybe if you tell me the person I'll be able to identify whatever their famous for.
OK, it was adopt scientist and philosopher Hans Christian Orsted.
I don't think I've heard of.
Him you haven't.
Heard of him?
I mean, I probably how I just don't remember.
Well, he also discovered or first produced aluminium.
And we also discovered electromagnetism.
So pretty big discoveries.
Yeah, pretty important.
But obviously both those pale.
In contrast to discovering pipering.
Got one more to try now.
Let me take that top office.
Oh, colour these those.
Oh, that's why does that feel lighter?
Wait, it does actually fit off?
Raise the weights in the pot, giving good smell.
Luckily, I haven't sneezed yet.
Oh, these are disgusting. It's yeah, they smell awful.
You didn't like that? I love that. Actually, that smells a little bit. When I first opened the part for them, it smell of like amazing, slightly earthy, but that's as you got a hint of farmyard, so get them in there. I'm desperate to try this now.
That sounds sick.
Yeah, that's not. That's not right, so it looks like a.
Tiny white pumpkins or something really small white pumpkins.
OK well should grinding noise. I'll tell you a bit more about that. You say again, they come from Sarawak and that is widely considered to be the best place in the world for white pepper. OK, so this is the finest white pepper you can buy because this is a high budget podcast.
So how do you think they get?
That white finish? What do you?
Do they not get dried in the sun?
They do, they get. Do they get?
Wet in the rain.
Nearly sort of OK. Yes, they do get dried in the sun like the black peppercorn.
Once that's happened, they will, as you know, naturally are dried, actually.
At first and broadly peppercorns, they're placed into Hessian sacks. Then these bags they will actually be placed into running water like a river for a week, and this the place is called retting and it loosens and removes the outer skin, leaving the lighter colour beneath.
And yeah, that's how I produced. I just saw your face then you don't look so keen on this one.
No, I just start it again once it's crushed, crushed up. So if there's any.
More fragrance and.
It just sounds even worse.
Let's have a taste.
I like how you just quickly Alexia finger one.
Let's have a taste, yeah.
I'm prepared for this. Well, this is how real lab scientists do.
I'm heading in.
How strong is it?
Not protected or.
Ah, I thought was gonna be.
A massive leg? Oh it.
Was that's quite strong. It takes a second. I want my tongue.
Yeah, it's going to be a.
Quick, but it's much milder than the other Peppers, and you usually find this ground into really fine powder, so it worked.
Really well in.
Sources because you didn't get dark flecks like it was with black pepper.
I think it's had a reaction with Anton here.
It's stuck in my throat.
Have a little bit more.
Of a drink.
Now I actually.
Got my special Peppers from a website called sous.
Chef and wished us good luck on this episode.
Wait a minute. See shatswell we got with a really nice noodles for well, spaghetti thing from, wasn't it?
Yeah yeah yeah. So they wished us good luck so hello and thank you. If you are listening.
Maybe they'll be listening in the future.
Yeah and yeah, well yeah they're not listening right now.
And they got lots of really cool ingredients in there that you can't normally find.
Anyway, so you've tested the four different types of pepper here, so I hope to have notice the difference between the stages of the right planning on the different processes there. Obviously it's really hard to judge them properly, as pepper would be used drawing, cooking, or seasoning.
Rains it rather than tasting it like this, but did.
You have a favourite, UM?
I think I quite liked the.
The second one we did.
The green one. Yeah, I'd like to get some fresh ones actually and make some proper peppercorn sauce.
Well, I think I'm going to try and do. I don't know if you're got any more things to say, but I'm going to crush them all together and we have a jumbo taste.
Yeah, so we're still doing that. I will just say that so now that you've tasted all four variations of the world most popular spice.
Are you ready to learn all about its history folklore?
Science and medicinal uses.
Great Sarah, let's head over to the studio in the future.
And we're back.
The smells of the pepper were amazing, weren't they?
Yeah, it was really a some of them smelt a little bit strange but I I enjoyed most of them.
Yeah they were kids. Yeah, all the different types we tried and it's maybe something we take for granted because it's such a commonly used spice, but this wasn't always the case.
What today you'll find giving away virtually for free on every table of every restaurant in the world, has a long and often dark history.
Fighting slavery wars. Persecution, extinctions are all part of the tale of pepper.
Voltaire wrote in 1750.
After the year 1500, there was no pepper to be had at Calicut. That was not dyed red with blood.
Yeah, that's pretty.
Ominous quitlines in that.
But it's also held great value and brought great wealth to many people. The modern labelled trade network was built upon a foundation of peppercorns.
But first of all, what are peppercorns?
I'm not entirely sure.
OK, do you want to?
Sure for the listeners.
OK, and they are the fruit of the pepper nigrum, which is a flowering vine. In the paper ACI family.
And the word pepper is derived from the Sanskrit word pippali, OK.
Pally, oh it is. Yes thank you. Yeah pally like I said.
Actually, you might notice the acoustics are different. I'm just gonna mention we are recording in a new studio today, aren't we?
We're pretty much recording in a rainforest at the moment.
So yeah, we are in a rainforest surrounded by plants.
Uhm, we're trying to here. Photo in the show notes anyway. Speaking plants I've got here, a photo or a illustration rather of pepper so you can see the shape of the leaves.
Now it's native to the Malabar Coast in India. That is a long thin stretch down the southwest of the country, more it's a coastal region, but recent studies have looked at how modern pants related species evolved and moved over millions of years. As the Gowanda supercontinent break apart, you know the massive supercontinent yards that split apart.
And kind of reconfigured in different ways, and they discovered that there are several waves of influx of pepper related plants over millions of years as the geography changed, but today it's growing in many places with Ethiopia and Vietnam being the world largest producers for labour Brazil, where the Japanese set up plantations in the 1930s.
And it loves a wet, warm climate of the tropics, but it also requires shade and well drained soil. Now Pepper alone accounts for about 20% of all the Welsh label spice imports. It is the world's most widely traded spice.
Good to cover then.
With over a million tonnes traded every year, so it's about 140 grammes for every person on Earth.
Wow, being avoiding it depends on other plants which it climbs up and it can reach a height of about four metres and it has what's called cordate shaped leaves.
Which is like sort of a.
An upside down heart, but not too much.
The the cars aren't too bad.
You've got an upside down heart, you say like the botics of the curves are not too pronounced. Yep.
And then it's flowering, so it's a flowering vine, and then the flowers grow on spikes of typically 20 to 30. Fruits are produced in each one, so that's the pepper or peppercorns. Then they start off green, and as they ripen, they turn red. As we said in the tasting.
And then the spikes are collected, and then they're laid out in the sun to dry, and then the droops are removed or the varies depending who you ask, probably.
So that's our basics of the biology of pepper. OK, not going to deeper. It's not looking at you as we record sitting opposite me.
Yeah, I know it's it's weird 'cause before we were recording next to each other and now we're looking at each other and I've got like a screen on my left.
And my co-host on my right.
OK, so should we get into some of the history then or pepper?
It's been incredibly valued throughout history.
It's equally dangerous to collect for the pepper. Plants are protected by snakes, really? Ah? 7th century polymath Isidore of Seville tells the story in a book 17 of his etymologies. Pepper comes from Groves of trees in India. These Groves are guarded by poisonous.
Really, OK, that's not the history I'd found.
OK yeah, so Isidore sources for this included please Natural History and a letter to the Emperor Hadrian on the marvels of the east. Now Penny the elder wrote.
It is quite surprising that the use of pepper has come so much into fashion, seeing that in other substances which we use, it is sometimes their sweetness and sometimes their appearance that has attracted ornatus.
Whereas Pepper has nothing that it can plead as a recommendation to either fruit or Berry is any desirable.
Quality being a certain pungency.
And yet it is for this that we imported all the way from India.
Who was the 1st to make a trial of it as an article of food?
As something always find fascinating is yeah, who were the first people who discover and start tasting with these different spices and and their uses?
Who discovered like Poison Ivy and stuff so?
Yeah, probably some defaulting in it.
Uhm, yes, this story of serpents protecting the pepper remains for a long time. But follow me, the Englishman which I love, his name, he lived in the 13th century rate.
Pepper is a seed of the fruit of the tree that did roeth in the South Hills of ask ask US in the strong heat of the sun and serpents, keep the woods that are peppered roeth in.
And when the woods are pepper ripe men of that country, set them on fire and chase away their serpents by violence of fire, and by such burning the grain of pepper that was white by nature is made black.
So what is it about drying out in the sun earlier? Might be wrong. It might actually be that.
This happens, what do you reckon?
I'm not entirely sure, maybe it's drying in the sun.
Yeah, that's what we did today, I believe.
I I did, I did say that I well, I did introduce the snake story, so I should probably believe the snake story.
Have you ever seen or visited a pepper plantation exactly so we don't know, do we? We can only believe what we're told.
Now, no doubt this story was kept alive by Arab traders who brought the spice to India. So why do you think they do that?
It's harder for them to collect, doesn't think so.
I'm not sure actually.
Well there be.
The growers in India and then there be across the Indian nation. You'd have the Arab sailors and traders.
So be to help keep the value up because it keeps it very kind of always mythological, doesn't it? It's only when the Europeans started to travel to India during the 16th and 17th centuries that the truth started to come.
And in the mid 1500s the Portuguese physician Garcia de Orta rated treaties on medicinal plants of India and included this amazing illustration of pepper nigrum.
And actually, I think it looks like something a Cubist artist would create few 100 years later.
It's quite cool, huh?
I'm gonna have that in the shade notes.
Around the same time, the English traveller and merchant Peter Monday would actually describe the plant and the process, and also wrote that it reminded him of Ivy.
So how valuable do you think Pepper was?
I'm not entirely sure, but he said Pepper was.
So quite valuable.
Yeah, well, let's he found two peppercorns stuffed up. The nostrils of Ramses the great. And here's mummified. So that's back in 1213 BCE.
Barwan knows how did he sneeze.
Not sure actually.
I, I mean I didn't see as well as smelling the Peppers, so maybe not everyone does.
Ask trade and actually did you OK so when the Goths sacked Rome in 410 CE E their leader, Alaric. He asked for 2300 kilogrammes of gold just over 13,000 pounds of silver 4000 silk tunics, 3000 scarlet hides and how much pepper.
Yeah, 1300 rounds of pepper.
Wow, that's a lot.
That's a lot, isn't it?
And there was also regularly used as a currency in the Middle Ages and and the term as dear as pepper, which used to describe something very expensive.
After the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, King Philip II of Spain, he didn't actually have enough silver to pay off his debts, so he's peppercorns instead.
So she's also how much of it must have been coming into Europe, but also how viable it's still was, but it wasn't was requesting large quantities, and he says the Trinity Church in New York and that received a charter from King William the third, which was a annual rent of 1 peppercorn.
But that wasn't paid until fairly recently, when the Queen Elizabeth II. He received 279 peppercorn.
But as I said, Pepper has a history as dark as its colour says. Shall we delve into how it became the world favourite spice and along the way he bought the fortunes of few?
But the suffering for many.
So Pepper has a long history, and it's been widely used in trade for thousands of years. As we briefly covered, and Plato said.
Is small in quantity and great in virtue.
And Hippocrates, he recommended mixing pepper the first herbs as a treatment for fever.
And then the 1st Century Roman cookbook.
Epicurus, it calls for Pepper to be used in about 470 recipes in the book.
That's quite a few.
And here's one recipe that came from it.
Wait, I bet you wait just before that.
Uh, I bet that it was like.
500 Ancient Roman cookbook recipes or something and 470 though, have pepper in them.
Yeah, how to cook like a ramen.
I'm yeah, so here's one recipe from it.
Yeah, so I think I might have to try this one later. Now this isn't a kid like you.
It's a goat.
This is hot kid or lambs due. The Ravens were even trading with India in the 1st century CE E and their ships would sail across the Red Sea and then across the Indian Ocean and it took about 40 days for them to do that.
So it wasn't really that far away.
In a way.
Was it 40 days travel? It's not too bad.
Yeah, that's not too far.
You didn't think of a mixing essay of India and the Romans.
However, with the fall of their empire the the direct route to this place was cut off, and the only source of pepper would have been through the Arab.
Traders we mentioned earlier.
You could say that Europeans, well, mainly the Western ones. We discovered it during the Crusades. UM, when they came into contact with the east again.
And all the exotic things like the spices and the silk. And I think you found some more old recipes, didn't you?
I'll tell you some of them.
A mediaeval Italian cookbook said an ounce about 30 grammes of pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and also cloves and saffron go well with all food. I'd like to put.
That in a yoghurt.
In 1264, Saucier Master William made a source with 9 kilogrammes of Pepper in for a feast and and for his wedding. In 1468, JQ Harloff Burgener ordered nearly 150 kilogrammes.
I can pay a lot of church debts for the New York Church.
Good yeah that that's wow that's Millennium of it.
We'll see, people would also pass as spice plates around after their feast, showing off their money.
Uhm, I think you can see there.
How maybe people with pallets and tasted changed overtime because we only had a few rounds of Peppers, a day of that, that nine kilogrammes, whatever it was in the sauce. I mean, that's insane.
Makes you wonder what?
That is the source, you just turn it into, like peppercorn paste.
Now, now Pepper was an important symbol and part of life for the rich and powerful. It's access to it, and being able to attain it easily and at a good price was really important to them.
So in the 1600s, pepper accounted for as much as 80% of the value of all spice shipments to Western Europe.
And this was when Venice was at its height, so the spice would travel on Indian and Arab ships across the Indian nation and to the Red Sea. And there would be carried over land up the Nile to Alexandria and onto the Mediterranean.
Where Venetian and Genoan ships would take it to Italy, and one that would be further traded around Europe. So it's a long route with many stops and challenges to all parties involved, and then each adding their own fee to the price.
But with the rising power of Western European nations and the ever drained demand for the riches of the East, people started trying to break the monopoly held on the trade by Venice.
And the first had truly do this with the Portuguese, who were making steady progress, setting down the West Coast of Africa, and in 1488 they rounded the Cape for the first time.
So right around the bottom of Africa and then ten years later, explorer Vasco de Gama, he would sell his fleet up past Madagascar and across the Indian nation.
To Calicut in India.
For the first time and that was a really vibrant pepper trading port, so I'll try and put some match in the show notes and there's one for you here, so hopefully you can see.
Just about can see the line.
Yeah, that they would have.
Now French theme and Francoise Parod would later describe the city of Calicott as.
Between the town and the King's palace, there is nothing but houses and there is no place in All India where contentment is more universal than at Calicut.
Both on accounts of the beauty and fertility of the country, and of all the intercourse with men of all races who lived there in free exercise of their own religions.
Brilliant French accent there.
I was doing a past French accent. You never know.
That's very true actually. Yeah, so it sounds like the city was a real melting pot, so the rulers were Hindu but fair.
Melting pot mixing pot.
Mixing part yes. A mixing pot. The rulers were Hindu, but they're also Muslim traders from the Middle East and North Africa and large numbers of Chinese traders and lots of other people there. And it sounds like they're all living pretty happily and in harmony.
But then the Europeans arrived.
This whole trip.
When asked why the Gammage party had landed, their reply was.
Christians and spices.
I don't know what extent that was an.
And along their journey to Calicut that hidden their motives and identity and they had also taken hostages for protection and they showed little respect for their hosting calicott and the.
And higher land wished them ill so didn't make a very good impression during his second expedition, he came across a Muslim boat carrying about 380 men, women and children.
Which he burnt, killing everybody on board. Why I don't know.
But it was also dangerous for the sailors and from that voyage only about 55 for the original 148 crew survived.
Well not, they just wanted to be there so they weren't all horrible people I'm guessing, but that that survival rate was fairly typical at the time and the entire voyage could take up to two years.
And it's really important to be timed properly to catch the trade winds, because of course you're going all the way around Africa here. There's a massive, dangerous journey.
But these spices that they receive could be viable enough to set them up for.
Life, so it's worth that risk. I mean, it might be the best option for you.
And then on their second boys they brought home 5500 kilogrammes of pepper.
This is very fitting.
OK, maybe not.
And this was the first sign of disruption in the whole spice trade by Europeans.
Now as the number of voyages increase the trade opportunities.
An Italian Andre Caselli, he noted in 1515 and that it was just as profitable to take Pepper from India to China as it was to get you back to Portugal with it.
And it could reach four times its price when sold. If you're sending it to the Chinese, so it's good. Mark up, yeah?
And so whilst there were Chinese merchants operating in the area, it seems their numbers had dropped by the time the Portuguese arrived. Marco Polo.
During his travels, he observed that for every one ship heading to Europe there would be about 100 from China.
So this is a little bit earlier OK, and in the 1400s now I'm going to say his name wrong.
Yeah, so I've got to look up the pronunciation, but as then he the AB reward, the Chinese treasure fleet he widely sailed to near sea and the Indian nation and even all the way onto Africa.
And these were much larger ships than the European ones, and his expeditions were massive. He says one which had 300 ships and nearly 28th.
That far exceeds anything the Europeans were capable of at the time where they send a few 100 people around in a couple of bites.
Then, after seeing whose death though in the 1430s, the Treasure fleet began to decline, when Zu Gouzy became.
I'm not sure he's wrong, I do apologise.
Became emperor in 1424 and one of his first orders was actually to stop all of the four edges on the treasure fleet, and everybody is exactly sure why that was done, but it could be his confusion.
Beliefs clashed with like the value of trade, but it's really interesting to think what would have happened if China had maintained its power.
In the region, yeah.
Sort of topical today actually. So the the Portuguese they began to gain control of first towns and cities, uhm?
On their trading routes and they built fortresses in an attempt to control the pepper trade and in 1510 they captured go out in India which is about midway down the West Coast.
12 years later, they captured Malacca in Malaysia, which was a key port controlling the.
Sea lane to China.
So it goes between like the Malaysian mainland and Borneo, so it's a really thin strip, so it's far easier to sail through this channel than Roundup.
And when Europeans first arrived in the city, they were awestruck.
The city of Malacca is richer seaports with the greatest number of wholesale merchants and abundance of shipping and trade that can be found in the whole world.
Yes, a really vibrant seaport, which I think something we forget about because we have such a Eurocentric history. Again, this port was a real melting pot of people and cultures from across Asia and even Africa.
So it was melting pot. You've changed it from mixing hot tub medicines.
Yeah, I think it is going to be melting.
But we're just inventing new language and terms here. That's that's how big we are with that power.
Uhm, one Portuguese ambassador said.
However, his Lord of Malacca has his hand on the throats of Venice.
Yeah, so remember they're trying to break that. The spice trade against Venice. He was also the first European to describe chopsticks.
So when they attacked Malacca, it was led by somebody called Alfonso de Albuquerque and a Malaysian observer described the attack as such.
And thanks engaged with the men of Malaccan battle and they fired their cannon from their ships so that the cannibals came in like rain, and the noise of the cannon was the noise of Thunder in the heavens and the flashes of fire and their guns were like the flashes of lightning in the sky.
And the noise of their matchlocks was like that of groundnuts popping in the frying pan. So I think groundnuts aren't quite as scary as Thunder and lightning.
So it was a really savage and brutal conquest.
Ferdinand Magellan was part of the fighting for Malacca. He is famous for leading the first circumnavigation of the world. He died drawing it.
But aboard his ship for his voyage around the world was a man from Malaysia, Enrique of Malacca. He is thought to be the first person to ever circle the globe.
Yes, I I like that. See he's whilst I think he's pretty much a captive aboard I.
I like the idea.
Yeah, that whilst Europeans were out trying to conquer half the world, the first person to get around it was actually somebody who they are.
They're taken from their home, so they get that credit.
It's after taking the city that Albuquerque use slave labour to build a mediaeval style fortress overlooking the city, and it was actually pulled from the ruins of mosques and using stains from mausoleums of former Malaysian sultans and religious buildings.
Oh, you don't really get much more disrespectful than that, yeah?
And we're going to have a quick break here because I believe that you found some ancient medicinal uses of pepper.
So Greek physician deescalated discordians.
Recommended putting pepper and a drink to kill shakes and fevers caught and even kill venomous bites, and even all diseases about the breast, whether it be licked in or received by a drink.
Lectin, OK, and I've actually got some here. You've got some.
As well in your car, I don't want to try.
Just have a tiny sip.
What do you think?
I don't know if I've already got much from that ship, but I think it could be slightly spicy and the other Bay leaving the UM, but it just taste mostly over warm water.
Well, I got a real spicy kind of kicked my I can feel it in my chest now.
I got I got a little bit but I only had a step but that that could work.
Yeah, I could definitely see that helping out with what?
Yeah, all diseases about the breast, which I can feel what's on my chest now and I I believe you got another raisins here as well, which is keeping me.
So you can chew the reasons to draw down thin phlegm out of the head or drink it with Bay leaves. Again to drive this away, Norving.
OK, so let's try this. So we've got some peppery raisins here.
So this should be the sweetness of those.
That actually tastes tastes good.
Not that I've heard. Encased in chocolate, that's right.
Oh yoga or something.
You see, my hand sinks in pepper.
So are you feeling refreshed and healthier?
A little bit I, I think that that drink could actually help with something. Maybe it maybe that drink could help with a cold or something maybe.
So across the street from Malacca, analyse the island of Sumatra and as you know it's covered in lush forests and mountains and and the central Highlands are where with pepper sprayed really rich pepper growing region. Then they flipped it down the rivers to the case still trading.
Lesions on little rafts.
At the northern tip of the island, it's problem Sevaka.
And the port of Mbandaka.
So I've got a map here I.
Put machine mates, but for you enter. I've circled it and region OK and and then you see the little green.
Down here that's Malacca. So you see this thing straight, so you see, that's a really important.
And then there's this large, powerful region at the top blocker. Now with the Portuguese controlling Malacca.
I could quickly grew to become a powerful trading port where attracted Muslim traders who couldn't operate elsewhere due to the Portuguese control.
Now the Muslim traders are there, simply followed by British and Dutch ships as the balance of power began to shift.
And this was highlighted by a British merchant saying that's the port.
Lioth wrote the answer.
To the trade of Bengala Java and the Malakos and all China to the decrease and diminishing of all Portugal's trade and their great forces in the Indies.
But with the.
Arrival of more European powers came more brutality.
And on their second expedition to Indonesia in 1598, the Dutch, led by courteous Hootman, attacked the port of Bantam, bombarding it and killing prisoners that they've taken as well.
Ah, and then returning several years later, this time to anchor the the Dutch met with the Sultan he had never heard of a land from which the doctor come, but he had somehow heard of England. I wanted to meet an Englishman.
And by luck, the Dutch actually had a skilled English navigator called John Davis aboard.
Such a boring name like your hair or the.
Awesome, he's like our funders or whatever the dude was. Yeah, and then we just get John Davis to ski with English navigator.
I know I've been thinking of doing an episode on kind of all these amazing names from history. Everything, oh.
They sound so cool.
And just who they are? If it's like names, you should know.
Yeah, so he was him to speak with the Sultan. This wasn't asked about the Queen Elizabeth the 1st and how she had managed to defeat the Spanish, but somehow news of the destruction of the Armada had reached where he was and so it probably travelled with the traders. A month later, Cornelius was poised.
And and his brother was taken prisoner. So obviously a bit of fighting and intrigue and stuff going on there.
And the Sultan was a powerful leader and he didn't want these men from distant lands trying to take over as what had happened just across the water in Malacca. So he's trying to protect his interest in the region, which is understandable.
Fearing that the Dutch would come to dominate the spice trade, the British East India Company was formed on the 13th of February 1601 and then the first ships to set.
Sail from London were headed by a man called James Lancaster. The doctor had already been trading the region for a while as we know, but they formalised their own company, the Dutch East India Company in 16.
80 So with these two rival powers, and the trade, and also the conflict that they carried along with them, was only gonna try, as he took the first British.
Ships 16 months to reach Hacker and there are many arrived Lancaster sense of menace or just total of their arrival and with them they had a handwritten letter from Queen Elizabeth. 2 The great and Mighty King of Akame.
But they refused to hand this over to the envoy, and they insisted that they be allowed to deliver it.
By hand themselves.
Now in the letter, the Queen asked for permission to trade and also to launch attacks against the Spanish, Portuguese and the Dutch.
She wrote that God had ordained said the one land may have need of the other and thereby not any breeding, intercourse and exchange of their merchandise and fruits which do.
So superbound in some countries they want in others.
But also engender love and friendship between all men, a thing naturally divine. Now Lancaster, I'm nervous crew, uh might come ashore and in the distance they heard the sound of drums and trumpets.
Bum bum bum bum.
Plastic and a large crowd and six elephants were approaching and they were there to carry the visitors to the Sultan.
This is Lancaster, not the queen again.
OK, the biggest of these elephants was about 13 or 14 feet high.
Which had a small castle like coach upon its back covered with Crimson Velvet in the middle. There offers a Great Basin of gold and a piece of silk exceeding the wrought over to come.
Right under which Her Majesty's letter was put.
Yes, they were an elephant with like a really fancy cars on the back to carry a letter.
So Lancaster delivered the letter and also gift from the Queen to the Sultan, and they feasted together. So there are lots of dancers and music, and the banquet and food and all sorts going on.
I think this sortant offered some really strong alcohol which Lancaster asked if he could delete it. Make it a bit weaker if she's allowed to.
But could you imagine being there like this other world, really mysterious and far from home? It's not many people would.
Relief is to before nobody who need probably and really exotic and another mission from from your queen as well. And I mean, it's.
Must be cool.
Yeah, the English they left with gifts from the Sultan, but more importantly free entry into the port and also custom free trade.
But the Sultan did not allow them to build a factory or sign an exclusive trade agreement, so he's still wanting to control his region, which makes sense. So the English. They're actually a little bit disappointed, but good progress had been made.
But there were two problems.
Now the first was that there wasn't actually enough pepper to fill their ships, and the second was the pepper that was there was more expensive than they expected to be.
But no problem.
They decided a little piracy would do the job instead, so they decided to attack Portuguese ships heading out to the straight to Malacca and this greatly pleased the Sultan who said.
If there be anything here in my Kingdom, may you pleasure the, I would be glad to giraffes. I didn't know.
Is there an old and old fashioned spelling?
I I kind of got it though. 'cause draught? Oh, I keep getting the kicking the plant and I can't talk even I just have killing the plants that were kicking the plant as well.
And apparently the swords also asked for a fine Portuguese lady to be brought back from the ship as well when they're doing their their policy, but Lancaster hadn't done this, and he said I couldn't find any lady beautiful enough to come for you.
Solton and I think they kind of bonded over that as well. And obviously you don't really want to, just.
Take slaves, also, Lancaster, he sent two of the four ships on their from their little fleet. I'm homeless. The others continued to trade and strike deals before setting home for England themselves, and they arrived back home in September 1603, and the country changed about the green was dead.
And there was plague.
Change just a bit.
And pepper prices had fallen.
Didn't like did it.
Night and half the crew were dead.
So not a great start, no OK, so let's go back to Malaysia and in 1607 the Sultan's grown son became ruler of Aker and he was a powerful leader and he used his aims ships to trade with India and he began a campaign to take control of nearby cities. So he's trying to expand his region in the north of.
And for a while he even blocked English and Dutch merchants from the city, and he raised a fleet of 236 ships and nearly 20,000 men. And he attacked Malacca in 16 and 29.
But after bloody conflict, UM, he was unable to take it from the Portuguese because they were protected inside the fortress they've made out of.
With this stain.
From mausoleums and things.
Yeah, well, it looks like they're catching up a little, and there's Chinese fleets aren't there, yeah?
Average roughly, yeah, there's a much more reasonable thing they this is just going across a small state of war.
They're not spanning Asians.
The feasts and festivities of the old Sultan were a thing of the past as armed conflict and the battle for trade intensified.
Yeah, certainly did, and the Dutch were particularly brutal in trying to monopolise the trade blockading ports that refused to deal with them and killing anyone who traded with anybody else.
Sounds like me and said sex.
And they're taking control of many of the Portuguese holdings in India, so down the coast.
But the important city of Calicott invited the British to make a factory in the port, so obviously they didn't want the dogs to get full control there.
So whilst they probably rather have no Europeans having as much control, it makes sense for them to invite the British and just to stop the monopoly there.
And the East India trading companies. They were a bit like semi military organisations so they weren't just trading. Their job was both trade and battle. So controlling lands protecting their vessels started dealing in the local politics to further.
Against so there'd be as much a military force as they were. They like a trading force as they continued their expansion into smotra, they've become more and more involved in local conflicts, supporting various different sides and different or factions in local conflicts as they're all trying to get the upper hand in their rivals.
And when civil war broke out in Bantam in 1681, and the Dutch saw this as the perfect opportunity, they supported the Sultan son against his father and.
British and an English merchant rate.
Has said the Dutch have more forces coming and if they all land their men undoubtedly bandham is there's we stand to the fate of war. Our factory being in the midst of danger.
Yeah, so it's middle. It's a war zone now where this pepper is coming from and you get the European powers.
Uhm, helping different legal leaders so they don't attacked and they took control of the town and the British and the other merchants they they took hiding in their factories, but the locals probably weren't so lucky.
And they installed this son as the new Sultan, but he was a part of the Dutch and they ordered the British to leave, which they did and not even this alternating sons were allowed to approach him without permission from the Dutch.
I'd be quite happy with that.
Took me a second to realise.
And yes, the Dutch were now in complete control.
But the battle for the king of spices isn't over the Dutch East India Company was known as the VAC and their commander Magnuson Wickman said in 17.
01 Happy is the bride around which everyone dances on this case, and she has many lovers. They knew the English, Danish, British and so at traders.
But the most important competitors the companies face in the trade are the English.
The biggest and the most harmful after Moon, so that shows the intense rivalry there. So with the Dutch having control of northern Sumatra, the British needed to look for new ports and suppliers of pepper, and they settled in Bagulin, which is in the southwest of the island, but unlike Aker.
Up in the north.
This space was held for the Europeans exact. It's got a really pleasant climate. Apparently it's like for Europeans, yeah, so down in bed cool and disease was rife.
The climate was much less hospitable and the local sultans forces often attacked as well. An English East India company officer argued Ralph Ward. He wrote in 1690.
Our people daily die and now we are in the worst condition than ever for we have now neither men to make a grave to bury you dead and none to carry the dead corpse out of the town.
Yeah, so in a pretty bad state by.
The sounds of it.
But this didn't stop the East India Company from investing.
And they built Fort Mobira in the 1710s, and I think it really shows that this is more than just commerce. It's also something about control, isn't it? Yes, that's quite a large Fort there that was built.
Looks cool though.
It doesn't seem that the majority of the British who were there, so having that actually enjoyed it.
Yeah, because he said earlier, like sailing across their ships, they didn't probably weren't too happy, but.
You would like risk it to get a fortune like it might be the similar here as well.
Yeah, well there's a story about of. I think it's the dot, but touch of Portuguese sailors where they would actually have to change them to the ship when they set sail, and only when they had left port would they release them.
He said basically kidnap them to build the ships.
Yeah, so the British weren't happy to be there either. I've got a list of their consumption of alcohol for July.
1716 here so you ready.
74 dozen and a half of wine, mostly carrot, 24 dozen and a half of Burton ale and pale P A2 pipes each 105 gallons.
42 gallons of Madeira wine, six floors of Sarah's are Persian wine and 164 gallons of Goa toddy.
So that's a lot. That's one month.
Not yeah, yeah.
And the problem is.
Uhm, the bill for this wine was more than they made an entire year trading pepper.
So yeah, I don't think they would have got much work done either.
Must have permanent headache. So yeah, it's never a profitable venture for the British, but it's really important to still have a presence in the region so the doctor wouldn't have complete controls.
It was we got to be there, even if we're losing money just yeah, but with their losses as they increased, so did the brutality the locals.
Were forced to cultivate pepper at the expense of growing enough food to actually feed themselves and the English destroyed the system of growing and trade that operated for years with it being blown up in the Highlands and brought down to the coastal regions.
And this caused a lot of social issues and made life in like incredibly difficult. But of course the locals were to blame for the.
Problems and a report from Fort Mobira stated.
Malays are stubborn, ignorant people. It is a very difficult task to make them sensible of their interest. The lenity which your owners have always recommended to us have no effect upon such illiterate dispositions.
Yes, it's based.
Saying, oh, the reason we're not possible here is not because we're really drunk all the time. It's because the the locals are obviously lazy and stupid, which is clearly not true.
There's that pepper sneeze.
There we go.
Is that they've clearly been trading absolutely fine and living absolutely fine for hundreds or thousands of years, aren't they?
And but now?
Everyone held these views, thankfully.
Sir Stamford raffles.
Oh, it's easy, but keep those knees in Sir Stamford. Raffles and his wife arrived in 1818.
So this is 100 years later now. OK, uhm, but nothing had really improved and he right?
It will be pretty obvious that the population is effectually enslaved. The country has been nearly depopulated, and the remaining labourers charged with the additional duties of those who are no more to be found have nearly lost all character and energy.
If a planter does not cultivate his stipulated number of wines or deliver his proper produce of pepper, he is punished.
Say, do you think this is a nice place to be living?
Do you think it's nice treatment now? Horrible, isn't it? So they're basically just.
Walking shells of peace.
Raffles who I want to call Ruffles. I say liquid and ruffles.
Raffles really fell in love with Smotra and he explored deep into the interior, advocating for improved conditions, but he still felt.
Sumatra should undoubtedly be under the influence of 1 European power alone, and this power is of course the English.
Yeah, so well best that many people were still not.
Yeah, still not great and very much. Oh well, we're civilised Europeans haha. As you can see in that photo, it's really dense rainforest there. So imagine this plantation. Think of it like in Minecraft and you find a.
Village in the forest.
Now raffles, he would collect rare manuscripts and documents and art and animals and birds and plants and all sorts from all over Sumatra. And yeah, he made a great collection there. He wanted to learn about the league.
Cool history and culture and there's a lovely story of one of a young boy who's one of his aides and local boy just having like really loving words for him. So it seemed that he actually made a good impression on the people.
But once he was there, four of his children would die, and his own health words suffer a lot as well.
So when the British closed Bencoolen in 1824, he was going to travel home and the ship on which he was travelling unfortunately caught fire and he lost his precious collection of treasures that recorded his beloved island.
And unfortunately, these were really rare manuscripts, so it said that, like the local culture and language, everything suffered a lot from that piece.
Its destruction, think of a a great library burning down or something. So with the British Guards, marcher was left to the Dutch, who reinforced an even stricter policy of forced labour and.
Undid what good work that's Raffles had tried to do himself, and the English would agree to carve up Southeast Asia, with the British getting India and the doctor Motr and a local surgeon, ruler said.
Against the transfer of my country, I protest who is there possessed of the authority to hand me and my countrymen like so many cattle over to the Dutch or to any other power?
If the English are tired of us then let them go away, but I deny their right to hand us over to the Dutch.
We were not conquered and I now tell the English and Dutch gentlemen here assembled that had I the power and the will, I would resist this transfer to the knife.
I am, however a poor man, have no soldiers to cope with yours and must submit.
So what do?
You think of that?
I think he is thinking of the right thing.
Yeah, so local leader there. That easy right is its countries just being handed over between European powers.
Isn't it over the next decades the Dutch would subdue more and more people to the islands, but in the north, the path region of Aker, the base of all these amazing feasts and the elephants 200 years earlier would remain.
Free but not forever, and the Dutch would attack.
But the battle to take control of it would last 30 years and 10,000 Dutch and 50,000 locals would be killed.
And a brutal guerrilla campaign would be 4 four years in the jungles. And it was actually taken to a World War Two and the Japanese invasion to finally remove the.
Dutch, but after the war, most of the pepper plantations were abandoned and some Archer never regained as important as the pepper.
No, that that's a long time actually. If it's till World War Two and the Dutch Rome.
Yeah, it's about 500 years in total. Must be really. There's so much more to tell in the history of Pepper and the trades because I've not even touched on the American ships arriving in the 1800s. The first American military intervention overseas was over Pepper, and also the first American millionaires made there.
Fort jeans in trading. Pepper Elihu Yale and they found that the university bearing his own name actually financed much of it through the pepper trade.
But that's where we're going to end the history now, I think. So what? What do you make of that?
There's quite a lot of fighting, uhm, you can definitely tell that.
Pepper was important as well, but.
But I don't think that's very fair on this. In March from people.
No or other people in the region as.
Well, but it's amazing how this one spice can become such a powerful.
Some sort of thing that would affect and change the world.
So we started off looking at a bit of ancient history, the Greeks and the Romans, and they used pepper as much for a medicine As for a spice for kicking and staying.
Scientists are going exploring the medicinal properties of pepper, but you've also had for a long time in traditional Chinese medicine, and I are Vedic medicine, which is an Indian professional medicine.
They long believed in the positive power of pepper, the positive power of pepper.
That's my flu.
And yeah, so they they had this belief in pepper and they many cases may be right. Actually that it.
Is really good for you.
But we also spoke about how Western nations would happily subji foreign people and seeing their western ideas as superior and in 1835 they actually banned the teaching of I've added medicine in India.
The British did, but maybe we need to rediscover some of that lost knowledge. And today Pepper is actually being explored as an anti cancer treatment and anti inflammatory and may even help improve your mood. Has your meeting.
And the arrangement is said to even be able to help our stroke victims to breathe and swallow the Greeks, and Raymond said, aided digestion. And this does also seem to be the case.
I actually have another story about Roman medicine. There was a doctor called Galan who suggested boiling pepper in honey to cure stomach problems.
Uh, but you didn't eat it.
Did he smear on your chest?
No, it went in another hole.
So maybe maybe you know how Ramsay has had the pets. You know how warranties have the peppercorns in the nose. I think they got it completely wrong. 'cause it goes up your bum.
Apparently this caused a lot of pain though.
Yeah, I really trying this one as well. Have you made it to?
No, I decided not to do this one, but I think I think you would just get some rings of fire there.
But I think that shows that maybe.
Both these traditional medicines are something that we could probably learn from these. These people spent thousands or hundreds of thousands of years using these plants, and maybe we shouldn't blindly follow all of them and mix them with modern practises and testing. Yeah?
Yes, might be a bit more useful.
OK, so as well as being painful for your bottom, it's uncomfortable for insects team and a 2008 study by the University of Florida and the US Department of Agriculture have shown that insecticides containing pyridines, so that's the active chemical and pepper.
They're not only as effective as deep, but they also last three times longer. I think one last about 70 days.
This is really good, so you would cover your arm and not something and then stick it into a box full of mosquitoes and then see how many bit when you're testing.
A long time.
It it's just.
Yeah, yeah, I'm a drip think that that.
But one of the most impressive findings is how piperine it's been shown to help boost the effectiveness of other compounds and medicines, including kukurin, which is found in turmeric, which you may remember from our very.
First episode Yep.
So yeah, it's an enabler of other medicine, so you could have really powerful effects, yeah?
So I hope you agree that Pepper truly is the king of.
Spices, I think it is.
For thousands of years it's been used as a medicine and a spice. Today you'll find it every kitchen on every restaurant table.
And it's taken for granted as something that's always been there and always will be there. It's something almost as common as the air we breathe, isn't it?
But this has not always been the case.
It also comes in lots of different.
Like not exactly shapes and sizes, but you can like when we're tasting. There's like the green red, lots of different things and you can use it for so many different things, like the turmeric.
You can still do that, just not quite as many as peppercorns and Peppers.
Yes, and pretty versatile, isn't it? Well like.
The recipes are there there, how it improves every single meal.
Now all love of pepper, not any for its flavour, but also for its value and the riches it's brought as foundational in the building of the modern world.
The pining sailors who bravely set sail into the unknown, built the trade networks that connect the world we now inhabit.
Even Columbus, when he sailed West, he took peppercorns with him to show those he met and tell them what he wanted.
He didn't find it, but many other explorers did, and in the name of Pepper and other spices, atrocious acts were committed. So next time you're seasoning your food, you take a moment to think about pepper this incredible spice.
For each peppercorn need grind vowed to do a little good in the world to rebalance its history.
Don't think of it as like crushing.
The people that were killed.
Oh my God.
No, think of it as crushing their dreams. No.
No, that's wrong.
Think of it as a way to thank them for everything that they've done for us.
I actually got a lot of this from a book called Pepper, A history of the world most influential spice by Major E. Shaffer, and I think that's a wrap.
Waffle waffle. What type of rap or whopper? What type of rap?
I think more like wrapping paper. Everything is kind of finished and wrapped up nice and neatly.
Oh my mistake.
Yeah, don't worry about it, you'll learn.
Next, oh, next time I need to come up with a rap to finish off the episode or that was a bad idea saying that, but you can't. You can't count that out.
OK, that's that's been reported now. Can't cut that out yet. So you can do a wrap up. Speaking of waiting episodes, we are part of the batch, not kind of network, and we have a trailer here from another show. You coulda book boys, I believe.
So you go and listen to that.
Because you can never judge a book by its cover, so you have to.
Cheque it out. You can't judge a podcast by its trailer.
Oh, that's right.
Or its cover art?
Yeah wow OK yeah yeah so thank you very much for listening. I hope you found this an interesting episode and you know.
A little bit more about the fascinating history of Pepper and also its amazing medicinal uses.
But before we leave, where can you find us?
And you can find us anywhere that you search for us.
Such as Twitter.
At Curie childhood.
At Curie childhood.
At Curie childhood.
The Curious child com.
Our shop with amazing sexy merchandise.
I'm shocked at the courtesy of child.com.
That's correct, yeah. And also on every single podcast platform you'll find a status search for the.
Curiosity of a child.
That's right, yeah. So thank you very much and we will chat again soon.
What you've forgotten me? Where do you find my gaming channel?
Oh yeah, you got gaming channel afterwards. Had a gaming channel on YouTube.
The curiosity of gaming and from recording this episode I've got over 100 subscribers now, which is awesome. I've nearly got well. I've got two videos where they have more than 1000 views as well.
Yeah, it's very good.
You have you have made the big time.
Yeah, so very well done.
Anyway, thank you very much for listening and we will think of another episode.
Yeah, and come.
Back into here soon. Oh, you're going already bye.
That's meant to be a kiss. No, it is a bit weird.
Sorry about that.
I think they got it completely wrong. 'cause it goes up your bum.
Well, it's like my 3 again. Let's just go to the history but now.