Columbus Brings The Heat (To The World)
Few could have imagined the impact of Columbus' discovery of a spice so pungent that it rivaled the better known black pepper from the East Indies. Nonetheless, some 500 years later, on the quincentennial anniversary of the discovery of the New World, chili peppers (Capsicum) have come to dominate the world hot spice trade and are grown everywhere in the tropics as well as in many temperate regions of the globe. Not only have hot peppers come to command the world's spice trade but a genetic recessive non-pungent form has become an important "green" vegetable crop on a global scale especially in temperate regions.
Capsicum Baccatum Var. Pendulum, but my friends call me Aji
Capsicum baccatum var. pendulum (Aji)represents another discrete domesticated genetic line. Eshbaugh (1968, 1970) notes that this distinct South American species is characterized by cream colored flowers with gold/green corolla markings. Typically, fruits are elongated with cream colored seeds. The wild gene pool, tightly linked to the domesticate, is designated C. baccatum var. baccatum and is most common in Bolivia with outlier populations in Peru (rare) and Paraguay, northern Argentina, and southern Brazil. This lowland to mid-elevation species is widespread throughout South America particularly adjacent to the Andes. Known as aji, it is popular not only as a hot spice but for the subtle bouquet and distinct flavors of its many cultivars. This pepper is little known outside South America, although it has reached Latin America (Mexico), the Old World (India), and the United States (Hawaii). It is a mystery as to why it has not become much more wide spread, although the dominance of the Capsicum annuum lineage throughout the world at an early date may be responsible.
New Moves for an Old Pepper: JBSauce.Com
The spread of domesticated peppers throughout the world during the 500 years since discovery is truly a phenomenon. Two of the domesticated species, C. annuum var. annuum and C. chinense have been widely utilized on a global scale. Both C. baccatum var. pendulum and C. pubescens have been extensively exploited in South America but remain largely confined to that market. Given both the unique qualities and flavors of these later two species they each represent a potential source for future development. Enter JBSauce.Com. The goal is to share with the northern half of the hemisphere the awesome tastes of the Aji Pepper, specifically the Chilean Aji or "Aji Chileno" which is by far the best pepper in the world.
Peppers: History and Exploitation of
a Serendipitous New Crop Discovery
W. Hardy Eshbaugh
Eshbaugh, W.H. 1993. History and exploitation of a serendipitous new crop discovery.
pages 132-139. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), New crops. Wiley, New York.