A SECRET STORY
It is 1494. Christopher Columbus is in Haiti for his second trip to the New World: "More than a trip, this is a Mission".
Colombo is worried. He confides it to Diego Alvaro Chanca, his on-board doctor: The Spanish royalty will pay his endeavors only if he brings back tons of precious spices.
Chanca well understands this : pepper, cloves, cinnamon ... more than -just spices, they are the cornerstone of the Arab economy.
Destroying this commercial monopoly would mean, for the Spaniards, destroying the enemy of all time and throw him out from the Iberian territory.
He tastes what they call "axi".
They love it: they use it in every preparation, they praise its therapeutic properties.
He reports it to the Captain who, enthusiastically, writes to Queen Isabella: “It's their pepper, and it's worth more than pepper. All people don't eat without it, and find it very healthy. At least fifty caravels could be loaded on this island in a year."
The history of pepper in Europe has has began.
Europeans apply their botanical knowledge and start to farm different sweet and spicy varieties.
At the beginning of the 1500s the pepper also arrived in Italy.
Especially cultivated in the South.
In the state of Diano (today Teggiano) south of Salerno, there are two particular varieties:
- one spicy, which for its small and thin shape is called Serpentìno;
- one sweet, tapered, arched. If dried, it reminds carobs, which in dialect are called "sciuscelle". This is how Sciuscillone was born in Diano.
Sciuscella, Sciuscillone: it is important to understand this connection.
The sciuscella, the carob, is a fruit. Even Sciuscillone, the pepper, botanically is a fruit. And not a vegetable.
The Dianesi know it and to preserve it they dry it as it is done with fruit. Skewered by the stalk with needle and twine, the Sciuscilloni are hung to dry collected in long chains (the "nzerte").
A lot of air and a little of sun.
Dried clean from seeds and stalk.
Mechanically toasted and milled.
Fried in extra virgin olive oil.
Simple, but not easy, processes that have made Teggiano peppers the symbol of local agriculture for centuries.