HISTORICAL ROLE OF SPICES AND AROMATICS
The history of spices begins 4000 years BCE on the coast of Malabar in the southwest of India. The first man to pick pepper to improve the taste of his rice was the precursor of a crazy race in search of new flavors to enhance his basic food.
It should not be forgotten that the diversification of our diet is only very recent and that it concerns only a small part of humanity. The nomads of all countries have always known the advantages of spices: Easy drying and low congestion. The merchants who supplied Europe appreciated these qualities and added a great added value because of the mystery surrounding these goods.
History tells us that the exoticism and nobility of these products have sometimes led to exuberance. Some recipes of Apicius (4th century AD) contain an impressive number of spices and aromatic plants.
At the end of the Middle Ages, one-third of the receipts included saffron and the consumption of mustard has reached peaks. More than 300 liters for a single meal served in 1336 by the Duke of Burgundy.
The great discoverers of the 15th and 16th centuries favored the appearance of new spices: Pepper, vanilla, all-spice was then directly linked to the supply and the prices practiced.
The courses may vary from one to ten depending on the arrivals, which has encouraged the discovery of native plants used as substitutes.
The French Revolution and then the Empire greatly limited the importation of exotic plants and it was not until the 20th century that the enthusiasm for all these plants
Relaunch their consumption.
ANTIQUITY AT THE END OF THE MIDDLE AGES
The earliest descriptions of terrestrial caravans are due to Herodotus (about 500 years before our era), which describes the convoys leaving for a dangerous journey of three years
Which was to lead them to China.
The enormity of these caravans, sometimes more than a thousand pack animals, the insecurity of the roads of the time and the many difficulties encountered justified the exorbitant prices and the worship devoted to these wonderful merchandise which are spices.
The attraction for regions, among others, producing spices, pushed Alexander the Great as far as the Hindus which he reached in 326 BC.
The Romans, at the time of Pliny the Elder (23-79), did not know about China. They practiced the spice trade only with the Arab and Persian merchants.
This surely contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire. The prices in Rome amounted to a hundredfold of the purchase price. The multiplication of intermediaries and the quasi-monopolies in place succeeded in maintaining prices unimaginable today, until the beginning of the Middle Ages.
Here is the story of the nutmeg. This tree provides fruit all year round, up to 2000 seeds per year per tree, without special care and for more than 80 years. And yet the pound of mace was negotiated at the end of the Middle Ages the equivalent of half a cow and three sheep.
Throughout the Middle Ages the different powers in place in Europe
Have greatly benefited from the spice trade to raise very heavy taxes.
Spices, and pepper in particular, have very often been used as currency in their own right.
This has left many expressions that enrich the French language.
It was not until the end of the thirteenth century and Marco Polo’s account that he was able to form a more precise idea of the geographical distribution and methods of production of the different species. Venice has benefited from the transport of the armies leaving for the Crusades to set up a large fleet. It will become between the 11th and 15th centuries the European capital of the spice trade. The closure in 1453 of the route of the Indies by the Ottomans will mark the end of the Middle Ages.
WHEN SPICES SPREAD HISTORY
In 1492, Christopher Columbus discovers the American continent but it is indeed India
And its spices which are sought after.
In 1498, Vasco de Gama crossed the Cape of Good Hope for the first time and managed to reach the coast of Malabar in south-western India and then in 1502 Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka).
Fernao de Maglhaes said Magellan left in 1519 on behalf of the King of Spain.
After a difficult winter, he discovers the strait that bears his name and ascends the Pacific Ocean
To the Philippines where he is killed by the leader of a local tribe: Lapu Lapu.
Of the 265 members of this expedition, only 18 of them return after the first trip around the world. The holds of the surviving boat are filled with candied cloves.
All this time marked the beginning of the different colonies established by the European countries. The colossal sums of money