Pepper: A History of the World's Most Influential Spice

Front Cover
Macmillan, Apr 2, 2013 - Cooking - 302 pages
11 Reviews

Filled with anecdotes and fascinating information, "a spicy read indeed." (Mark Pendergrast, author of Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How it Transformed the World)


The perfect companion to Mark Kurlansky's Salt: A World History, Pepper illuminates the rich history of pepper for a popular audience. Vivid and entertaining, it describes the part pepper played in bringing the Europeans, and later the Americans, to Asia and details the fascinating encounters they had there. As Mark Pendergrast, author of Uncommon Grounds, said, "After reading Marjorie Shaffer's Pepper, you'll reconsider the significance of that grinder or shaker on your dining room table. The pursuit of this wizened berry with the bite changed history in ways you've never dreamed, involving extraordinary voyages, international trade, exotic locales, exploitation, brutality, disease, extinctions, and rebellions, and featuring a set of remarkable characters."

From the abundance of wildlife on the islands of the Indian Ocean, which the Europeans used as stepping stones to India and the East Indies, to colorful accounts of the sultan of Banda Aceh entertaining his European visitors with great banquets and elephant fights, this fascinating book reveals the often surprising story behind one of mankind's most common spices.


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Review: Pepper: A History of the World's Most Influential Spice

User Review  - Rose - Goodreads

Surprising story of our now common spice. Who knew its history was so filled with adventure? Nice illustrations. Read full review

Review: Pepper: A History of the World's Most Influential Spice

User Review  - Cheryl Williams - Goodreads

I have newfound respect for pepper and what a crazy history it endured to make it onto my plate! Read full review

All 2 reviews »

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About the author (2013)

MARJORIE SHAFFER has written for The New York Times, The Financial Times, and Popular Science magazine. She was a business reporter for Reuters and a former Knight science journalism fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A graduate of Brown University, she received a Master of Science degree in biology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is currently a science writer and editor at New York University School of Medicine. She lives in New York City.

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