The partaking of spicy foods is a culinary delight that has reached epic proportions in this day and age. Let’s find out a little bit more about the fierce chili peppers that are so popular!
Peru is considered the country with the highest cultivated Capsicum diversity because it is a center of diversification where varieties of all five domesticates were introduced, grown, and consumed in pre-Columbian times. Bolivia is considered to be the country where the largest diversity of wild Capsicum peppers are consumed. Bolivian consumers distinguish two basic forms: ulupicas, species with small round fruits including C. eximium, C. cardenasii, C. eshbaughii, and C. caballeroi landraces; and arivivis with small elongated fruits including C. baccatumvar. baccatum and C. chacoense varieties.
Christopher Columbus was one of the first Europeans to encounter them (in the Caribbean), and called them “peppers” because they, like black and white pepper of the Piper genus known in Europe, have a spicy hot taste unlike other foodstuffs. Upon their introduction into Europe, chilies were grown as botanical curiosities in the gardens of Spanish and Portuguese monasteries. Christian monks experimented with the culinary potential of chili and discovered that their pungency offered a substitute for black peppercorns, which at the time were so costly that they were used as legal currency in some countries.
The spread of chili peppers to Asia was most likely a natural consequence of its introduction to Portuguese traders (Lisbon was a common port of call for Spanish ships sailing to and from the Americas) who, aware of its trade value, would have likely promoted its commerce in the Asian spice trade routes then dominated by Portuguese and Arab traders. It was introduced in India by the Portuguese towards the end of 15th century. Today chilies are an integral part of South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines.
There is a verifiable correlation between the chili pepper geographical dissemination and consumption in Asia and the presence of Portuguese traders, India and southeast Asia being obvious examples.
The chili pepper features heavily in the cuisine of the Goan region of India, which was the site of a Portuguese colony (e.g., vindaloo, an Indian interpretation of a Portuguese dish). Chili peppers journeyed from India, through Central Asia and Turkey, to Hungary, where they became the national spice in the form of paprika.
Lots of tasty dishes!!
How Hot Do You Like It?
A wide range of intensity is found in commonly used peppers:
Bell pepper 0 SHU New Mexico green chile 0 – 70,000 SHU Jalapeño 2,500-8,000 SHU Bird’s eye chili 100,000-225,000 SHU Habanero 100,000–350,000 SHU
Notable hot chili peppers
Some of the world’s hottest chili peppers are:
|United States||Carolina Reaper||2.2M SHU|
|Trinidad||Trinidad moruga scorpion||2.0M SHU|
|India||Bhut jolokia||1.58M SHU|
|Trinidad||Trinidad Scorpion Butch T||1.463M SHU|
|United Kingdom||Naga Viper||1.4M SHU|
|United Kingdom||Infinity chili||1.2M SHU|
Let’s whip up a dish of mean chili!!