A Tale of Pepper along the Sea Routes

By Leora Pezarkar, Senior Research Associate (Programs), Maritime History Society

An understated facet of colonial history of the Indian Sub-continent is the role played by food in inviting the Europeans to this huge landmass. If one is to study the voyage of Vasco da Gama and his passion for discovering the sea route to India, it all comes down to his one ambition – “For Christian and Spices.” The Portuguese, the Dutch, French and much later the English took on navigating the harsh seas in discovery of the land on the East in search of the priceless spices that weighed in gold, literally. The king of these spices, and the much sought after ingredient was the ‘piper nigrum’ or more commonly known as the Black Pepper. Native to the Indian Sub-continent, this Black Pepper built a reputation in Europe as the most eluded spice. Royal families, rich merchants and traders were willing to pay in gold and silver for a handful of Pepper to adorn their dining tables.

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On Researching and Writing about the Maritime Medium

Our personal journeys are dotted with questions. We want answers to so many questions about our personal life, our professional side, self-actualization, family, friendship, love and so on. Each of us anchors ways of anchoring those questions in a sense of personal capabilities, and resources and support that we are blessed with.

When the pursuit of a question becomes larger than us and our immediate surroundings, it begins to inch towards collective and shared wealth of knowledge. In order to make a larger contribution to community and society, this pursuit follows a certain method of enquiry that we may call research.

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