Chili peppers are thought to have originated in Central America as far back as 7500 BC. They were not introduced to any areas outside of the Americas until the 15th century AD, starting with Spain. Diego Álvarez Chanca, a physician on Christoper Columbus’ second voyage to the West Indies, brought them back to Spain in 1493, and he believed they had medicinal qualities. The peppers then spread throughout Spain, Portugal and eventually the rest of Europe before being introduced to China, Japan and India through trade. Chili peppers eventually became essential ingredients in traditional cuisines in those countries.
More about chili peppers:
- Birds can eat spicy chili peppers and spread their seeds without being irritated by them, because birds are unable to taste the chemical that makes the peppers so spicy.
- Along with chili peppers, other foods that did not make their way outside of the Americas until the 1th century AD include tomatoes and chocolate, which have become staple ingredients in many European and Asian cuisines.
- Although chilis originated in the Americas, India is the largest producer of these peppers worldwide.