History of chili peppers

Many different varieties of chili pepper all with markedly different climate requirements. I doubt they all originated in S.America - or, at least, I doubt they were introduced recently to other places. India and Asia almost certainly had indigenous varieties for thousands of years.


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I know that’s the popular theory, but I’m not entirely convinced. S. America undoubtedly had a wider range of cultivated types. But Solanaceae are found everywhere, and it seems a bit unlikely that a comparable plant didn’t appear (either via historical introduction or parallel evolution) on other continents.


India has cultivated eggplant for centuries, so wild chilis (which are related) almost certainly existed. Perhaps they were just weird-looking berries, or thought to be poisonous, or actually were poisonous, so nobody ever bothered to cultivate them. :man_shrugging:

Maybe. If so, then probably @yyy’s people flew in and stole all the chilis and all the evidence from India and Asia. They’re the real colonials. Everything’s falling into place…

… green supremacists anyways, think they’re so smart…

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You’d be amazed how fast human selection can change plants. If Japan can grow rice and tea, both originally required much warmer climate to grow, it’s not that hard to get chili pepper to grow in Asia.

Have you thought about how many varieties of tomatoes and potatoes there are in Europe?


As far as i know, Capsicum species are native to the new world only. And have been distributed worldwide over centuries. Being in the same family doesnt really mean a whole lot when it comes to distribtion, Solanaceae is worldwide.

India, Africa et c may very of had a native nightshade that was spicy but it would not likely not be in the Capsucum genus. Might of even been called the same, but common names are very problematic. Eg pepper referring to numerous species of unrelated plants with totally different habits, distribution and spreading across vastly different families

@hansioux potatoes. Another american native with insane diversity.



Centuries =/= millennia.

Gavin Menzies (that Gavin Menzies) in his blockbuster book briefly summarizes evidence of the spread of New World produce to the Old World by way of Chinese shipping. He makes serious historians scowl, but that doesn’t mean he’s always wrong.

Baseless fake news conspiracy theory! Except for the part about us being smart… :brain: :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

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I’ve never bought into that theory, either. Europeans went to the Americas and suddenly Asian cuisine became chili dominated. Why didn’t chili take off in European cuisine at the same time?

It’s not dissimilar to the theory that coconut milk and cream only became dominant in SE Asia when Europeans began to demand it.

climate, for starters

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Fairish point for northern Europe.

I’d love to live in a Mediterranean climate. I’m already noticing the heat and humidity here, easy for things to spoil. Yesterday I had some hot Thai food to get my spicy on, though, cooled me down a little!

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It’s incredibly hard to tell, but I have to admit that the evidence is in favour of the commonly-accepted theory. The Romans, for example, don’t seem to have known what chilis were despite having access to the cuisine of half the globe. AFAIK, the written records of Indian cuisine pre-Portuguese is a bit thin on the ground. Both Europeans and Indians agree that chilis are non-native, but, well, I dunno.

It’s true that potatoes and tomatoes really didn’t exist anywhere else - not even in rudimentary form - so as Explant said we can’t just assume that chilis existed elsewhere. There certainly doesn’t seem to be any identifiable wild ancestor in either India or Asia. However there is such a thing in Africa. Was it traded elsewhere, perhaps, prior to the Portuguese?

Humans don’t naturally enjoy capsaicin. It’s an acquired taste. I’m just pondering here on whether the Portuguese popularized the use of chili - by introducing fat and tasty varieties - rather than the actual plant.

There are lots of chilis that thrive best in temperate climates. Capsicum baccatum, for example, is a lot happier in cool climates. It originated in the cooler bits of S. America.


It’s the kind of bullshit-snowball-surrounding-one-tiny-grain-of-hypothetically-possibly-maybe-sort-of-but-not-really hyperbole that fake news websites are known for. I’m calling it. The author did not say what you say he said.

It’s all a bit murky. Have you read about the 14th century English monks whose bones showed signs of syphilis?

Are you sure chili pepper is used in Indian cooking? The basic flavor profile goes back about 6000 years. No way were they sitting there for six millennia waiting for the white man to sell them American chili peppers. “By Jove chaps I think we’ve finally got the makings of a good curry here”.

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Calling Rigellians ‘People’ is a bit of a stretch.


Paging the mod! Borderline hate speech detected… :oncoming_police_car:

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