Black pepper, paprika, cinnamon and cayenne pepper are spices commonly used in cooking. Most of these spices have been used for thousands of years to season food and some have claimed health benefits.
Black pepper is the one of the most widely and frequently used spices in the world. The plant that produces the peppercorns is native to India, where it grows wild in the mountains. It is grown commercially in most tropical regions from Vietnam to Brazil. Virtually every type of cuisine uses black pepper in some dishes. It has frequently been used as a medicine in South Asia to treat a variety of ailments, including stomach parasites, colic, anemia and syphilis.
Cinnamon is another of the world's most heavily used spices. It has been used to flavor delicious baked goods, candies and coffee for a very long time. Its aromatic fragrance is mentioned in the Bible as an anointing oil, and the Egyptians used it as an embalming spice as early as 2000 B.C.
Paprika is a little more recently developed spice, and although it is usually associated with Hungarian cooking, it was brought to Europe from the New World by the Portuguese and Spanish in the 1500s. It is widely used across eastern and southern Europe and America.
Cayenne pepper has been used for centuries in Asian regions such as Korea and Sichuan to create signature spicy dishes. It is cultivated and used worldwide to add a kick to many recipes.