[Sca-cooks] Spices

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Sat Jan 14 14:30:36 PST 2012

Black pepper can be placed in Egypt (being used in mummification) as early 
as 1200 BCE.  Long pepper was known as a medication in Greece around 600 
BCE.  Their use as a condiment in the Mediterranean world is a little more 
tricky, but we can set that as early as 2nd Century BCE in the Roman world 

The Classic Roman corpus does not generally differentiate between long and 
black pepper, but Pliny states, that long pepper cost 15 denarii per pound, 
white pepper cost 7 denarii per pound and black pepper cost 4 denarii per 
pound.  Given the prices, black pepper would have been the most common.  The 
Italian corpus likely follows the Roman lack of differentiation.

Long pepper is a very small seed (similar in size to poppy seed, black 
pepper is a relatively large one.  When one talks about "peppercorn," the 
reference is to black pepper.

Both were known and used in Europe in period, so if a recipe does not 
diffentiate, you could use either.  It is worth noting that there was a 
decline in the use of long pepper, starting around the 12th Century, leaving 
black pepper as the most readily available pepper in Europe by the 14th 
Century, so later period recipes calling for pepper are more likely to use 
black pepper.


> This brings up an interesting question.
> When a manuscript just says pepper we all seem to assume they mean regular 
> black pepper (or at least we use it because it is handy).
> IIRC the Early English stuff seems to differentiate between long pepper 
> and pepper but the Italian corpus (of which I am most familiar) doesn't 
> seem to say anything but pepper.
> Should we be using modern pepper?
> Should we be using one of the long peppers?
> Really let's not go there on chili peppers.
> Eduardo

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