A native plant of India, black pepper grows on a vining plant that produces tiny black berries-peppercorns. In medieval Europe, Europeans couldn't get enough of this precious spice and it was in high demand to season and preserve food. It was as precious as gold, and peppercorns could be used to pay rent and taxes. It traveled with other valued spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, etc.) across land and sea, along trading routes that were controlled by the Ottoman Turks. The power and spice-hungry European countries believed that if they could find their own routes to India, they could take the make other countries bow to them for spices. It was in search of better trade routes that made Christopher Columbus ambitious to sail around the world, hoping to reach the East Indies.
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