I've always wondered which spices came from the "New World" since most fruits and vegetables are transported from other places to show up in the produce department of the local store. Most of us know that corn came from the "New World" but have you ever wondered which spices we contributed?
It turns out the new world is responsible for adding three spices to the pot. One of them, you already know if you read my blog earlier this week! That's right, it is Vanilla!
The only species of orchid that produces Vanilla is the V. planifolia which comes from Mexico, the Caribbean and South America. It is a terrestrial vine that resides in forests. One other thing, the name "bean" came from the resemblance the pods have to string beans.
The second one appears to be certain peppers used in cooking such as Paprika and Chipolte. It is believed that many chili peppers originated in the Amazon and spread throughout the Americas before the Europeans arrived. The Europeans were responsible for chili peppers for spreading throughout the world and becoming an intricate part of cooking.
Did you know the following about hot peppers?
1. The level of heat is determined by the amount of Capsicum (the chemical that provides the heat) contained in a pepper.
2. Chipotle is not a variety of pepper per say. Chipotle is actually a fully ripened and smoked Jalapeno pepper.
3. Most peppers are from the Capsicum annuum but Tabasco sauce is made from peppers belonging to the Capsicum frutescens while some of the hottest peppers such as habenero or Scotch Bonnet come from the c. Chinese family.
4. Chili seeds have been found in settlements over 9000 years old in Mexico.
5. For a very long time, peppers were grown as ornamental plants in Europe.
6. Capsicum comes from the Greek word kapos that means "to bite".
Finally, there is allspice, an evergreen plant in the same family as cloves. It grows wild in Central America, South America and the West Indies. The spiced was named Allspice because it tastes like a combination of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. the small berries are picked and then dried so they look like pepper corns.
Did you know this about Allspice?
1. It was one of the few treasures that Columbus presented to the crowned heads of Spain.
2. Today Jamaica controls the worlds production of it.
3. Russian soldiers put allspice in their shoes to keep their feet warm and kill foot odour during the Napoleonic wars around 1812.
4. Although people tried to grow Allspice in other places it just didn't work out. The trees might grow but they wouldn't produce fruit. It can only be grown in the rainforests of Central and South America.