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Chile, the source of flavour

Actualizado: 12 oct 2019

Chile is part of the identity of Mexico; is the flavour, smell and color of Mexican cuisine, when you think of Mexican food you automatically think of chile as an icon of it.

Since ancient times the chile has been a substantial part of the cuisine, rituals, medicine and even as a defensive weapon for its heat and although several varieties have been found in Central and South America, Mexico is considered the country of origin of this fruit. Currently it is an essential ingredient in the cuisine of Mexico and other countries,  and contributes in their diets to give variety and flavour.

It is believed that its origin is located in the center of South America and that the seeds were transported by birds throughout the Americas. Its great diversification has been due to the great capacity of the chile to adapt to new environments, climates, heights without major difficulty.

One of the reasons that led to the transatlantic voyages and the discovery of the New World, at the end of the 15th century, was the desire to find a shorter passage to the East to acquire spices, which were highly valued in Europe due to their scarcity. Although Columbus did not find a new route to the East, nor the coveted spices, he did find a new and great diversity of food plants; among them, the 'Capsicum', known in Mexico as Chile.

The Europeans looked for the species so when Columbus tasted the chili and found it spicy he thought he had found a kind of pepper and he announced it as a new kind of pepper. That is why when acclimatizing the American chiles in Europe they were called "peppers" that are sweeter;  so the chile was brought to Europe by the Spanish and to Asia by the Nao route through the Philippines (also Spanish colony) and soon was traveling the world and forming part of many emblematic dishes of the cuisines of the world. Pimentón and Piquillo Pepper in Spain, Masalas in India, Curris in Indonesia and Thailand, Paprika and Goulash from Hungary, Hoisin in China to name a few. For a long time it was believed that the chile was originally from Asia.

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