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CUBEB BERRIES
PIPER CUBEBA

June 2017 Issue | Vol. 5, No. 9                                                                                                                           The hipster chef's peppercorn?













 
 
 
 

AAA 4-Diamond
Executive Chef 
HOTEL VALLEY HO, SCOTTSDALE
RUSSELL LA CASCE

5-Star/5-Diamond Pastry Chef
 HOTEL VALLEY HO
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA

AUDREY ENRIQUEZ

Executive Chef
PRIMO ITALIA | TORRANCE, CA
MICHELANGELO ALAGIA


M.F.K. FISHER
Food writer extraordinaire


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Southwest Foraging
by John Slattery


     
ZuZu restaurant
with Executive Chef Russel LaCasce
HOTEL VALLEY HO
Scottsdale, Arizona

     
Domaine de Cala Rosé
CHEF JOACHIM SPLICHAL

Beverage Specialist
WESTIN KIERLAND RESORT SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
MATTHEW ALLEN


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Cubeb Berries | Piper cubeba Ever hear of cubeb berries? The aromatic peppercorns look a lot like their cousin black pepper, except they have tails (actually part of the stalk from the vine on which they grow). One spice house calls them the hipster chef’s peppercorns because of their rare appearance in the modern kitchen. Cubeb berries have an engaging taste, like a blend of pepper and allspice with, some say nutmeg and others juniper. And, like black pepper, cubeb berries are good for you. So what’s with their obscurity? Piper cubeba grows in Java and Sumatra, but the berries, like every other spice from the Far East back in the day, originally came by way of India via the Silk Road to the western world. This, of course, had its consequences since the Arabian spice merchants operated a monopoly out of India and charged up the nose for those coveted Far Eastern spices. Once the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama discovered an ocean route that bypassed the Silk Road to India, the spice merchandising, next, moved to the western world. When da Gama’s vessel docked at the Indian trading post of Calicut, one of his sailors claimed they had arrived in search of “Christians and spices” (UNESCO Courier, 1989). In other words, the classic meld of church and state. By the 17th century, the Dutch elbowed their way into the spice market. Somewhere along the line, cubeb berries lost out to black pepper. History says Javanese cubeb berry merchants actually sterilized the tailed peppercorns with scalding water to keep their exclusivity intact. Then, the king of Portugal banned them in 1640 to bolster, some surmise, black pepper sales since the Dutch cornered the Indonesian market.