Monday Food Moment – Heat!

Bring on the peppers!

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!

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Hot Stuff!

History

Pottery that tested positive for Capsicum sp. residues excavated at Chiapa de Corzo in southern Mexico dated from Middle to Late Preclassic periods (400 BCE to 300 CE).  Chili peppers have been a part of the human diet in the Americas since at least 7500 BCE. The most recent research shows that chili peppers were domesticated more than 6000 years ago in Mexico, in the region that extends across southern Puebla and northern Oaxaca to southeastern Veracruz, and were one of the first self-pollinating crops cultivated in Mexico, Central and parts of South America.

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. eximiumC. cardenasiiC. 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!!

Monday’s Food Fix – Margaritas!

Salt or sugar?

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Mmmm…Margaritas!

Hold on for a moment, you say! Margaritas aren’t food!  I beg to differ with you, as a margarita without salt on the rim and some lime, just is not a complete margarita.

So, on this Monday, please enjoy yourself a margarita on me!

Have a wonderful day!

Technical Details

This image was lit in my studio with a single strobe in a softbox, and a reflector to reduce the shadow a bit.  The ice is fake… in a comfortable studio, ice just melts way too fast!