Cubeb, or tailed pepper, is a plant in genus Piper is used for its fruit and essential oil. It is usually found in Java, and so it is sometimes called Java pepper. The fruits are gathered before they are wikt:ripe, and dried carefully. The seed of the plant is white and hard oily.
In Europe, cubeb was one of the wikt:valuable spices during the Middle Ages. It was used in sauces. An old recipe includes cubeb in making sauce sarcenes, which consists of almond milk and a few spices. As a good-smelling snack, cubeb was often candied and eaten.
- (Hieatt 1988) "Make a thykke mylke of almondys, do hit in a pot with floure of rys, safron, gynger, macys, quibibis, canel, sygure: and rynse the bottom of the disch with fat broth. Boyle the sewe byfore, and messe hit forth."
- Candied cubeb is mentioned in Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, set in the 1940s: "Under its tamarind glaze, the Mills bomb turns out to be luscious pepsin-flavored nougat, chock-full of tangy candied cubeb berries, and a chewy camphor-gum center. It is unspeakably awful. Slothrop's head begins to reel with camphor fumes, his eyes are running, his tongue's a hopeless holocaust. Cubeb? He used to smoke that stuff." (Pynchon 1973, p. 118)