“The quest for spice was one of the earliest drivers of globalization. Long before the voyages of European explorers, spices were globally traded products. Desire for spices helped fuel European colonial empires to create political, military and commercial networks under a single power.
Historians know a fair amount about the supply of spices in Europe during the medieval period – the origins, methods of transportation, the prices – but less about demand. Why go to such extraordinary efforts to procure expensive products from exotic lands? The desire for aromatic substances has had immense historical repercussions, the effects of which are being felt long after the vogue of spices has diminished.”
See: “Spices: How the Search for Flavors Influenced Our World” by Paul Freedman on the YaleGlobal Online website