History of chili peppers

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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Perhaps also noting what defines native species. Humans tend to liken themselves as something outside the natural order, which seems pretty arrogant.

Human trade is a natural dispersion just as much as a migratory bird eating a pepper, crossing an ocean and taking a dump. Realistically, its the exact same thing. Animals (including us), winds, water etc all disperse and eliminate species.

Then theres the thing about after how long does one call a naturalized species native? This is highly cultural and minimally scientific so its hard to really have a concrete answer on many species “original” distribution. That and the fact evolution is a process not an instant appearance. So we say jalapeno as if it just showed up in some mexican village without thinking of its millions of years of evolution from slimes to now. So i guess we can normally consider the thing in question to be that thing when its phenotype is distinctive and stable enough to replicate more or less when grown abroad. At that point, its place of origin is probably its native range.

And thats incredibly hard to prove over log periods of time, despite what academics may think,about themselves. We are still quite ignorant, there are seekingly countless variables, and every year that goes by adds trillions more variables. Its really fun talking to scientists that study evolution and taxonomy as in the almost every fact is in fact a good theory.

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Crikey. That’s a bit of a mental leap there. I’m just trying to shoehorn that into the context of chilis. Is this something to do with the idea that tasty food causes unnatural urges?

a burning sensation?

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It’s an example of something generally believed to have been brought back by Columbus possibly already being in Europe before 1492.

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Ah, gotcha. I thought you were referring to the common association between beer, curry, and a short course of antibiotics.

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It was originally called the French Disease.

Fun fact!

You’d think they would have written it down

Apparently, one of the issues here is the interpretation of the word(s) used for ‘pepper’ or spicy flavouring.

Blaming the French for everything clearly has a storied history behind it …

I thought we already have a thread on the Columbian exchange.

Anyway, there is a legend of Zhu Yuan-zhang the founder of the Ming dynasty, that whatever he says becomes true. In the legend, this power manifested from when he was a kid born to a poor family. When he was supposed to watch the buffalo, he took a nap instead and lost the buffalo. He returned empty handed, and when asked about where the buffalo is, he said “the buffalo was stuck in a rock.” Sure enough, when the owner went looking for the buffalo, he found it stuck in a giant boulder.

When he got older, he became a beggar, and had no possession other than a beat up umbrella. A touring monk hoping to gather people to rise up to the Mongols saw Zhu napping in the middle of a bridge, blocking people from getting across. At first he was angry and wanted to woke Zhu up and move him aside, but he noticed that Zhu was spread out and using his umbrella as a pillow, which looked like the character 天. Then Zhu tossed and put the umbrella across his belly, which looked like the character 子. The monk realized Zhu was destined to become the emperor and rallied people to fight under Zhu’s leadership.

Anyway, back to the Colombian exchange. One of the legend about what Zhu said in his youth was, one day Zhu was again slacking off and napping, he rolled onto some peanuts, back when peanuts grow above the ground. Zhu was known for having lumps on his head, and the hard peanuts made his head hurt and woke him from his nap. Zhu then told the peanuts angrily “why don’t you get out of the way and grow under the ground!” From then on peanuts grew underground.

Ok, the problem is historically Zhu Yuan-zhang lived from 1328 to 1398. Columbus wouldn’t have gotten to the Caribbean for almost a hundred years after Zhu’s death in 1492. Peanuts wouldn’t have been introduced to Asia for probably another 100 years after that.

The inclusion of peanuts probably dates when these legends were created.