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How the Spice

Tonight you might grind a bit on Caesar salad or use it to perk up a steak, but pepper was once so valuable that it could be used to pay the rent. Pepper, along with other spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, was such a hot commodity five centuries ago that it drove nations to sail across vast oceans searching for new routes to the spice-rich Orient. Spices didn’t just make merchants rich across the globe — it established vast empires, revealed entire continents to Europeans and tipped the…

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