Peppers, Nutmeg, and Cloves

Peppers, Nutmeg, and Cloves
Peppers, Nutmeg, and Cloves have influenced the history of early exploration, each country’s claim to the new world, and even the modern day stock market. The lure of the pepper started with the discovery of India; Europeans soon discovered that the hot taste of the newly found Indian peppers could over-write that of rancid meat, preserve it, and add bold flavor to otherwise bland dishes.
Recognizing the potentially prosperous market that lie behind spice trade, Venice, Italy was quick to secure a monopoly on the trade. It was not long before the profit from this sky-rocketed, and European countries began to realize that it would be beneficial to look for a way to cut out the Italian middle-man when purchasing the valuable new spices.
It was Portugal that was the first country to respond, and before long, they had a complete monopoly over the spice trade. It was as a result of attempting to get around the Portuguese in order to access the spice islands that many countries launched history’s most famous and prosperous voyages, including those of Magellan and Christopher Columbus.
The love of the spice molecules can be explained by looking at their chemical structure. The piperine molecule, found in both white and black pepper, along with the many other molecules that make up various cloves and nutmeg are a unique shapes that fit into pain receptors on the tongue and other parts of the body. When the molecules are fitted into this receptor, it sends a message to the brain that says that it is hot. Like it does for all pain, the body then releases a relaxing endorphin. It is to this endorphin that people who crave “spicy foods” are addicted.
The distinct smells of different spices are quite distinctive from one another, and are caused by minute changes in their molecular structure. Such an example can be seen in the molecule Eugenol, from cloves, and Isoeugenol, from nutmeg, where just one of their double carbon bonds differs in location.
I think that the authors of the book are quite correct in the statement that spices such as peppers, nutmeg, and cloves, sparked the world trade market and led to the discovery of the new world. The key word here, though, is “sparked” and not “caused”. It is true that without the lure of the spices, many European countries would not have branched out and sent explorations to secure trading relationships with other Asian countries and various native communities in the East Indies. However, there were many other goods and molecules that made trading relationships with other new-world countries beneficial such as corn, potatoes, and tomatoes. They too would have eventually led to the modern global trade market and discovery of the new world, even if it may have been at a later date
.         The authors of the book also state that it was peppers, nutmeg, and cloves that started the modern-day stock market. This was based upon the fact that spice merchants would buy a small part of a big shipment of peppers being shipped from India or the Spice Islands, to ensure that one man would not lose an enormous amount of investment were the ship to fall at sea. I strongly disagree with this; I think that the stock market took off during the Industrial Revolution, where entrepreneurs would allow people to buy parts, or shares of their business in order to get enough money to start it.
The chemical impacts of these molecules have faded from what they used to be. Salts are no longer needed to preserve meat for shipment, as a result of the discovery of refrigeration. The exotic, new feeling of peppers, nutmeg, and cloves have faded with time, and the plants that grow these spices have been shipped around the world and grown in greater abundance. Shipment of spices has been accelerated with the discovery of air-travel, and technological advancement in overseas shipping, making them more readily accessible, and available to everyone at a relatively cheap price.
In conclusion, the demand for the exclusive, unique properties of peppers, nutmeg, and cloves that existed in the old world, has evolved into a hobby, delicacy, and preference of seasoning for today’s society. Although the chemical impact of these molecules affects modern society is little to nothing, they have shaped and influenced our history throughout past centuries.

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One thought on “Peppers, Nutmeg, and Cloves

  1. athomsen56

    Great Job defending your opinion on the historical impact and the synopsis! I agree with the stock market theory.

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