The history of the spice trade is essentially about the quest for pepper. Peppercorns and long pepper from the coast of Malabar (India) reached Europe at least 3,000 years ago. Because of the importance of the spice trade these trade routes were fiercely protected and empires were built and destroyed. Pepper was even used as currency in the global market. In 408CE the Goth demanded pepper as a part of their tribute when they laid siege to Rome. Later pepper was traded ounce for ounce for gold and used to pay dowries, rents, and taxes. The main producers of pepper are India (still!), Indonesia, Brazil, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
White peppercorn berries are picked when they are fully ripened and they are then husked and dried. White pepper has a subtle, less biting flavor and is used more liberally than black pepper. In Europe cooks often prefer to flavor creamy sauces and various light-colored dishes with ground white pepper. Our fine ground white pepper is 40 mesh (very fine) and is ideally used in a pepper shaker on the kitchen table or in the creamy, lighter-colored sauces for chicken, fish or potato dishes. White pepper is a staple in most of my homemade soups for the light color and the warmth that it can add to a dish without the bite of black pepper.