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26/11/2018

Michael Krondl – „The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice” – 2


  1. „By some estimates, the percentage of spices that reached the European market was never much more than about a quarter of what Asia produced.”
  2. „Merchants from Malacca to Marseilles built fabulous fortunes in the spice business. Monarchs in Cairo and Calicut financed their armies from their cut of the pepper trade. London, Antwerp, Genoa, Constantinople, Mecca, Jakarta, and even Quanzhou could attribute at least some of their wealth to the passage of the spice-scented ships. But nowhere were the Asian condiments the lifeblood of prosperity as in the great entrepôts of Venice, Lisbon, and Amsterdam. Each took her turn as one of the world’s great cities, ruling over an empire of spice.”
  3. „Venice prospered longest, until Vasco da Gama’s arrival in India rechanneled the flow of Asian seasoning. Then Lisbon had her hundred years of wealth and glory. Finally, Amsterdam seized the perfumed prize and ruthlessly controlled the spice trade in the century historians call the city’s golden age.”
  4. „The origins of globalization can be traced directly to the spice trade.”
  5. „It is often assumed that people’s taste preferences are conservative, and while this may be true for a particular individual, the cuisines of societies are regularly transformed within a generation or two. The fondness that many adult Americans exhibit for that sugary mélange of Crisco and cocoa powder called Oreos was most surely not shared by their parents. Italians as a whole were not obsessive pasta eaters until after the Second World War.”
  6. „The membership of I Antichi ranges from street sweepers to multimillionaires, from butchers to poets. They come together for the many official festivals that mark the Venetian calendar: for the Festa della Salute, which commemorates the end of the plague of 1631, when a third of Venice perished; for the Festa di Redentore, another party in memory of an epidemic; for the Festa della Sensa, when Venice recalls a time when the doge, the elected Venetian leader, would symbolically marry the sea; and, of course, for Carnevale, the pre-Lenten festival that overruns Venice and can seem as execrable as a plague when the narrow alleys swarm with the tourist hordes.”
  7. „While there’s no way to know just how the food of the past tasted (the meat, the wine, even the onions, were different from what we have today), the spiced mutton served at the festival of the Madonna della Salute probably comes the closest in flavor to the food eaten by Shakespeare’s merchants of Venice. Preparations for the November holiday begin in the spring, when the meat is prepared by curing a castrated ram with salt, pepper, and cloves before it is smoked and then air-dried for several months. It is still exported from Dalmatia (better known today as the countries of Albania and Croatia), as it would have been when the ancient republic used the preserved meat to feed her sailors. The flavor is strong and complex—and anachronistic.”
  8. „When Venetians found out that the Portuguese had arrived in India, at the very source of the pepper that made the city’s economy hum, many panicked. The loss of the spice trade “would be like the loss of milk and nourishment to an infant,” wrote the spice dealer Girolamo Priuli in his journal in July 1501.”

01/11/2018

Michael Krondl – „The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice” – 1

Filed under: FRAGMENTE DIN CARTI SI BLOGURI — afractalus @ 11:52
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   „For an upper-caste Brahmin to eat food that is forbidden or inappropriately prepared is to disrupt the order of the universe”.

„When Saint Benedict set up his monastic communities in the early sixth century, he specified just what his monks could eat and when. (It wasn’t much and it wasn’t too often.) Every Catholic had to conform to the religious calendar, but within that generalized scheme, each social stratum had different rules. The Italian preacher Savonarola, best known for castigating Renaissance Florentines for their ungodly ways, also had opinions on the appropriate dining habits of various castes. “Hare is not a meat for Lords,” he writes. “Fava beans are a food for peasants.” Beef was apparently okay for artisans with robust stomachs but could be consumed by lords and ladies only if corrected with appropriate condiments”.
„The idea that you might reach paradise by traveling east has a certain logic to it, given the times. We are so accustomed to thinking of European civilization as the vanguard of the world that we forget that for much of human history, the European peninsula was at the receiving end of the miracles of the East. Over the millennia, innovations such as Mesopotamian agriculture, the Phoenician alphabet, Greek philosophy, and Arab bookkeeping all flowed from east to west. Both Christianity and Islam followed the same route. So did wheat, olives, sugar, and spices. The historian Norman Pounds has depicted this flow of technological and cultural innovation from the Middle East as a “cultural gradient” that was tilted down toward Europe throughout the greater part of human history”.
„The pepper grown in the hills of India’s Malabar Coast could change hands a dozen times before reaching the shops run by the pepperers guild in Mandeville’s England. And each time the pepper changed hands, passed a customs checkpoint, or was subject to taxes, its price shot up. According to one study of the fifteenth-century trade, the Indian grower might be paid one to two grams of silver for a kilo of pepper; when it reached Egypt’s main port of Alexandria, the price had shot up to ten to fourteen grams; the traders at Venice’s spice market on the Rialto were charging fourteen to eighteen; and by the time it was offered to London’s gentry, the price had increased to some twenty to thirty grams of silver”.
„And once the Portuguese, and later the Dutch, entered the Asiatic trade, their profits could be even more spectacular. In the sixteenth century, the Portuguese could earn net profits of 150 percent or more from the pepper they bought in South India and sold in Lisbon. Nutmeg could fetch a hundred times in Europe what it cost in Malabar. The margin was even greater when it was purchased at its source in the Spice Islands of today’s Indonesia”.

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