When sprinkling red pepper on a pizza or indulging in a cinnamon roll, most people probably don’t give a second thought to the spices on their food and where they originated. Often taken for granted in modern times, spices were extremely difficult to obtain at one time, and the measures taken to secure them played a profound role in shaping human history. Some spices were once more valuable than gold and gems. Pepper was even used to pay Roman soldiers or rent in ancient times. Although spices are extremely affordable and accessible today, the undertakings that made this possible shaped economies and cultures, even leading to the discovery of new continents.
In Ancient times, Arabian spice merchants would tell stories of the mythical origins of the cinnamon and cassia they sold to maintain an aura of mystery surrounding the origins of their products and keep their foothold on the market. They dominated the market for 5000 years until the Middle Ages. In modern times, however, the spice trade looks different. One family whose story began in India and has crossed the globe, are extremely transparent about the origins of their products, making it a point for them to be traced back to the source.
What began as a small spice shop opened by Sunil Kumar and his family in 1980 in the Village of Lisora in Uttar Pradesh, India has since become a transnational company and the largest supplier of wholesale and bulk organic spices in North America. Just like the explorers and spice merchants of the times gone by, the Kumars help distribute spices across land and water, always maintaining their mission to provide organic and sustainable products. They have relationships with over 10,000 organic farmers and growers, and their legacy spans over 40 years.
How the Spice Trade Shaped History
Spices were the first globally traded product. Archaeologists believe humans have been using spices to season their food since 50,000 B.C. Cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, turmeric and cassia were some of the first to be traded across different lands. Records show cinnamon and cassia arrived to the Middle East more than 4000 years ago. Ancient Arab traders would tell stories of cassia growing in shallow lakes and guarded by winged animals.
Ceylon (modern-day Sri Lanka) and the Spice Islands (modern-day Indonesian Moluccas) served as important trading points at one time. Later on, Alexandria, Egypt became the world’s largest center of trade when it fell under Roman rule. Indian spices traded in Alexandria reached other territories of the Greek and Roman empires. For 300 years after Ptolemy XI gave Alexandria to the Romans in 80 BCE, trade between India and the Romans flourished.
In the 10th century, the trade rivalry between Venice and Genoa led to the Naval War of Chioggia in 1378. Venice emerged as the victor, which allowed them to dominate trade in the Levant for the next 100 years.
Age of Exploration
As shipbuilding technology evolved, the British, Spanish, and Portuguese sailed in search of the fabled spice lands, with the goal of finding alternative trade routes and eliminating the middleman. Christopher Columbus, sailing for King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain, famously failed to reach the Spice Islands but discovered the Americas instead. Portuguese explorers successfully found a route to Asia and reached India in 1498. For the next century, they dominated the market.
Fleets from Holland set sail for the Spice Islands in the late 1500s, which led to the establishment of the Dutch East India company in 1602. Other European countries soon followed and established their own East India Companies. Although Portugal dominated the spice trade at one point, it was surpassed by the British and Dutch. The pursuit of spices fueled globalization, technology, and established empires. There was a dark side to their success, however. During this period, European countries established their colonial presence in Asia and other parts of the world at the expense of indigenous peoples, leaving a legacy marked by violence and oppression.
Evolution of Tastes in the Western World
Some may wonder why spices were in such high demand in Europe. Modern European cuisine is not known for incorporating many different spices. Other cuisines, such as Chinese or Indian, are known to be more layered and complex, with contrasting flavors, whereas western European dishes combine similar flavors. One example is the use of cinnamon; its sweet aroma is typically used to enhance sweet dishes in the west, whereas in India and the Middle East it is common to use in savory dishes. Western food is known for being less seasoned than other cuisines. However, this was not always the case.
At one time, Europeans incorporated more spices in their dishes. A beef pie recipe from 15th-century Germany, for example, includes meat, butter, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and cloves.
A 16th-century English recipe for custard- a savory quiche with meat, includes veal, red wine, parsley, sage, hyssop, savory, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, mace, saffron, salt, dates, prunes, and ginger.
So what changed? How did European access to spices change their palate? While affording spices was a status symbol at one time, as spices became increasingly common, it became more elegant to do the opposite of what the masses were doing. So instead of masking food in spices, it became popular for the upper classes to bring out the natural flavors of foods by using minimal seasonings. This is why European food tends to uses fewer spices, preferring herbs, salt, and pepper instead to enhance the natural flavors. However, in the last few decades, the popularity of spices have made a revival as a result of globalization and immigration. One prime example is chicken tikka masala, which is considered to be the national dish of England and a symbol of its multiculturalism.
The Kumar Family’s 40-year legacy
As the largest wholesale and bulk distributor of organic spices and herbs in North America, the Kumar family delivers the tastes of India to North America. They allow Indians abroad to enjoy the tastes of home and non-Indians alike to discover the flavors of India without compromising on quality or price. They help people across the globe continue their family culinary traditions by bringing organic, high-quality spices, making them affordable and accessible.
Since 1980, Sunil Kumar and his family continue their spice trade across land and sea and show us what the modern-day spice trade looks like. So although we may take the accessibility of spices brought to us by companies like Spicy Organic for granted, they helped shape much of history, making huge impacts on economies, cultures, and history. Wars were fought, empires gained and lost power, technology improved, and society became more interconnected.
Ecommerce guru Ludovico Apollonio Talks on Ways To Overcome Stress as an Entrepreneur
Ludovico Apollonio is a digital marketing genius. He is well known for his advanced digital marketing and sale techniques which have been proven to help brands grow and become more profitable.
Just like every other individual, Ludovico had his share of roadblocks on his road to success. Being a millionaire at age 29, he has had to overcome a lot of stress and anxiety to achieve the success that he has today.
The life of an entrepreneur can be so stressful and overwhelming. There are times when you go through rigorous negotiations just to get a deal signed. All this makes you wonder if it is worth it. Little wonder a lot of entrepreneurs quit their startups due to being unable to take the pressure. When the mind starts to burnout from mental exhaustion, it causes the body to experience physical exhaustion. That’s when the constant pressure finally catches up with you.
Take it one step at a time
Learning how to manage your stress takes a lot of practice, but you can and need to find a way to handle it as an entrepreneur. To Ludovico, focusing on his obstacles one at a time and addressing the most pressing problem first was how he taught himself to deal with stressful situations and not let them limit his capacity for greatness.
A lot of people focus on too many of their problems at once, which is why they get stressed out so much. It is better to focus on one thing at a time. Enjoy it, and take the most pleasant memories of it into the next experience. If things get too overwhelming in your life, Bachr recommends taking a break from your troubles by engaging in something relaxing or satisfying.
“For me, I like to travel, meditate, and exercise as a way to escape my stress for a while. You’d be amazed at how much better you will feel afterward,” says Bachr.
Stay Focused and Dedicated
The road to success involves working through each step to arrive at the next one, with each step motivating and inspiring you to press on without fail. All successful entrepreneurs have dealt with obstacles before. It is the way you get around those obstacles that will determine your level of success.
Ludovico would never have been successful if he wasn’t determined and dedicated. He was passionate about his career and gave all his best shot to become a successful digital marketer today.
The majority of the important things on earth have been accomplished by individuals who kept on trying and stayed dedicated because nobody else would have done it for them. Ludovico offers the following advice on how to keep focus.
“No matter how tough things get, do not give up on your goals. If you have to find a mentor who can guide you through times of difficulty and uncertainty, then do it.”
How Ludovico climbed the ranks to achieve the monumental success he has today?
Today, Ludovico has started numerous successful businesses both online and offline and he started his marketing and consulting agency that teaches other entrepreneurs the skills they need to succeed.
The biggest takeaway I got from learning more about Ludovico Apollonio’s story is to stop trading your time for money, learn how to make money online, and to surround yourself with the right mentors in life. Ludovico Apollonio’s story is truly inspirational and he is definitely one of the top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs to watch out for in 2021.
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