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Spices have been important throughout history as a means of prestige as well as for flavoring and preserving foods Their value can be seen as early as 408 AD when a ransom was given to Alaric the Visigothic of three-thousand pounds of pepper along with thirty thousand pounds of silver five thousand pounds of gold and four thousand silk tunics Wernick 129 I plan to discuss the qualities of the most popular spices the history of the spice trade as well as the involvement which men such as Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus had in the making and support of the spice trade Spices are defined as derived from a variety of plant parts including the flower root bud secretion seed fruit or bark of certain plants Dziezak 102 They grow in primarily tropical or semitropical climates as opposed to herbs which are usually found in temperate climates The most popular of the spices include pepper cloves mace and nutmeg cinnamon thyme anise seed bay coriander and marjoram The many spices mentioned above have many discerning characteristics to describe Pepper vines are most commonly in India and the West Indies and peppercorns can be found in green white or black depending on the time of harvest Columbus had this spice in mind when he set out for the Orient in search of valuable commodities Hudson 23 Cloves are picked as the unopened buds of the flower which dries to about one-third of the size it was when picked They are harvested in Indonesia Brazil and Madagascar as well as many other places Dziezak 108 Mace and nutmeg are one of the few sets of spices which come from the same part of the plant in particular the ripened fruit which grows in the West and East Indies as well as Indonesia Nutmeg is the inner section of the fruit which is covered by a thin red covering
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