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  #1  
Old 02-16-2007, 03:24 PM
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Rolling Peppers

Smithsonian Scientists Report Ancient Chili Pepper History Research 11:28 AM, February 16th 2007
by Mihai Alexandru

Smithsonian researchers and colleagues report that across the Americas, chili peppers (Capsicum species) were cultivated and traded as early as 6,000 years ago—predating the invention of pottery in some areas of the Americas. The researchers analyzed starch grains to trace the history of chili peppers in the Americas.

Their findings contribute significantly to the current understanding of ancient agricultural practices in the Americas. The report is published in the Feb. 16 issue of the journal Science.

When Europeans arrived in the Americas, chili peppers were among the most widespread of the plants domesticated in the New World. However, the chronology and precise geography of their origins and early dispersals had been very poorly understood. Tropical environments, where many chili varieties were first domesticated and then incorporated into prehistoric farming systems, degrade most organic archaeological remains, washing away and decomposing all but the most durable evidence of ancient human activities. Lead author Linda Perry, of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, and colleagues overcame this obstacle by identifying chili pepper starch grains. The starch microfossils were found at seven sites dating from 6,000 years ago to European contact and ranging from the Bahamas to southern Peru.

The Smithsonian holds the most extensive reference collection of microscopic plant remains available to archaeologists—starch, pollen grains and microfossils called phytoliths. The team of researchers adding to this collection discovered that starch grains from chili peppers, members of the genus Capsicum, are shaped like red blood cells, with a strong, central line or split on the side.

"Sorting through microscopic particles and finding a type that distinguishes such an important plant group is like opening a window to the past," Perry said. "While we once based our understanding of chili peppers on rare sites with exceptionally good preservation, suddenly we are able to gain incredible insight into ancient agriculture, trade and cuisine by making these plants visible nearly everywhere they occurred."

Cultivated chili starch grains are discernible from those of wild chilies. The remains of these domesticated chili peppers were often found with corn, forming part of a major, ancient food complex that predates pottery in some regions.

The oldest Capsicum starch grains were found in southwestern Ecuador at two sites dating to 6,100 years ago. The chili remains were associated with previously identified corn, achira, arrowroot, leren, yuca, squash, beans and palm fruit, adding to the picture of an early, complex agricultural system in that region. Ecuador is not considered to be the center of domestication for any of the five domesticated chili species. A more ancient record of the domestication and spread of chili peppers awaits investigators working in other regions where wild chilies were first brought into cultivation.

In Panama, chilies occurred with corn and domesticated yams that dated 5,600 years before present (ybp). Chilies were found at a site occupied 4,000 ybp in the Peruvian Andes, with microscopic remains of corn, arrowroot and possibly potato. In this case, the chilies were identified as the species C. pubescens. The rocoto pepper, a cultivar of this species, is still a staple in the Peruvian diet. Newer sites in the Bahamas (1,000 ybp) and in Venezuela (500-1,000 ybp) also yielded remains of both corn and chilies.

"It's hard to imagine modern Latin American cuisine without chili peppers," said co-author Dolores Piperno, Smithsonian scientist at the National Museum of Natural History and at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. "We demonstrate that prehistoric people from the Bahamas to Peru were using chilies in a variety of foods a long time ago. The peppers would have enhanced the flavor of early cultivars such as maize and manioc and may have contributed to their rapid spread after they were domesticated."

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Old 02-16-2007, 04:02 PM
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Damn it Bot- I thought this thread was about rolling papers..and the adventures thereof..ever eat habanyeros(sp)? I understand those will strip your taste buds.
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Old 02-16-2007, 08:11 PM
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And I thought it was the re-incarnation of the 'Rolling Stones'
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Old 02-16-2007, 08:24 PM
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And I thought it was the re-incarnation of the 'Rolling Stones'
And the remaining Beatles.
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Old 02-16-2007, 09:00 PM
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Remaining ... that's what it comes down to. The Stones do amazingly well. They must have some miracle doctors or so.
Beatles and Who shrunk to have the original size ...

But I don't think that's what Bot's article refers to, maybe I should read it
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Old 02-17-2007, 11:05 AM
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I am trying to imagine the first time man tasted the chili.
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Old 02-17-2007, 11:51 AM
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Damn it Bot- I thought this thread was about rolling papers..and the adventures thereof..ever eat habanyeros(sp)? I understand those will strip your taste buds.
Habaneros have the highest heat rating of any chile.

They will not strip your taste buds, but after tasting one, you will be able to drink Tabasco sauce right off the bottle.
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Old 02-18-2007, 02:37 AM
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Habaneros have the highest heat rating of any chile.

They will not strip your taste buds, but after tasting one, you will be able to drink Tabasco sauce right off the bottle.
I remember, some of those nights, back in Hialeah, while drinking, the snack was as follows:
Cuban bread, cut open, inside soaked with Tabasco, raw onion rings ... and there goes your sandwich.
Habaneros are pretty bad. Peruvian Rocoto is similar.
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Old 02-18-2007, 06:03 AM
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I remember, some of those nights, back in Hialeah, while drinking, the snack was as follows:
Cuban bread, cut open, inside soaked with Tabasco, raw onion rings ... and there goes your sandwich.
Habaneros are pretty bad. Peruvian Rocoto is similar.
It is ironic that the hottest chile would come from Cuba. Cuban food itself is not very spicy--nothing like Mexican, Thai or Indian food.

Go figure!
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Old 02-18-2007, 12:00 PM
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Michael Phillip Jagger meets Anthony Kiedis?
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Old 02-18-2007, 07:52 PM
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I use habeneros when making hot sauce. But not much. I get the flavor right with jalapenos and cayennes with some fresh garlic, fresh celery, wine, vinegar and salt. Heat it to a simmer then let it cool and refrigerate for several months and check for flavor. Then I jazz it up with a habanero or two.

Get good flavor then adjust the fire.

B
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Old 02-18-2007, 09:11 PM
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I use habeneros when making hot sauce. But not much. I get the flavor right with jalapenos and cayennes with some fresh garlic, fresh celery, wine, vinegar and salt. Heat it to a simmer then let it cool and refrigerate for several months and check for flavor. Then I jazz it up with a habanero or two.

Get good flavor then adjust the fire.

B
I knew there was a good reason why I like you...

That's one potent mix my friend.

From as far back as the 18th century, there was a lot of back and forth trade and travel between La Habana and New Orleans.

Who knows, you may be part Cuban, or I may be part Louisianian (sp?).
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Old 02-18-2007, 09:36 PM
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I mix about a teaspoon or so of that stuff with garlic and onion sauteed in butter mixed with some more vinegar then mix with 3-4 crushed avocados. I'm not much for mayo so I don't add any of that. But people don't see to care when I offer it as dip.

Lots of Cubans in and around NOLA but not so much in my area. We have a couple of caribbean restaurants that are pretty popular (Venezuelans and Panamanians) and only one Cuban restaurant. But it's a keeper.

That's an interesting question -- what brought the fiery peppers into cajun cuisine--I confess the thought hadn't occurred prior to you suggesting a Cuban connection. Historically, our connection in Louisiana was closer to Haiti (being French) and the french slave trade. The French slave trade was much less oppressive than the English trade (much like the Spanish and Portuguese). the Roman Catholic connection resulted in Baptised slaves with which there was legal intermarriage and frequent manumission. The English (and derivative American) attitude was much more oppressive. I believe as a result of that more relaxed relationship that teh French and Spanish probably assimilated African cultural paradigms more readily.

Be that as it may, I do not recall Haitian cuisine as being especially spicey. Maybe American Indian? Since so many of the Capsicum varieties were cultivated in Meso-America, maybe it was a trade item?

I may have to do some research on this!

B
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Old 02-19-2007, 05:02 PM
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Who knows what those tiny little red peppers are called, the ones they use in Thai/Vietnamese food? I bit into one at a restuarant and it was so hot my feet started to sweat and my ears blew off!
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Old 08-10-2007, 03:54 PM
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Who knows what those tiny little red peppers are called, the ones they use in Thai/Vietnamese food? I bit into one at a restuarant and it was so hot my feet started to sweat and my ears blew off!
I believe those are the "bird peppers", we have those in Hawaii, but there's a new chili pepper sheriff in town: Indian Ghost Chiles

CHANGPOOL, India — Around here, in the hills of northeastern India, it's called the "bhut jolokia" — the "ghost chile." Anyone who has tried it, they say, could end up an apparition.

"It is so hot you can't even imagine," said the farmer, Digonta Saikia, working in his fields in the midday sun, his face nearly invisible behind an enormous straw hat. "When you eat it, it's like dying."

A few months ago, Guinness World Records made it official. If you think you've had a hotter chile pepper, you're wrong. The smallest morsels can flavor a sauce so intensely it's barely edible. Eating a raw sliver causes watering eyes and a runny nose. An entire chile is an all-out assault on the senses, akin to swigging a cocktail of battery acid and glass shards.

The confirmation of the ghost pepper's heat came from New Mexico State University's Chile Pepper Institute, where spiciness is a religion. The institute got its first bhut jolokia seeds in 2001, but it took years to grow enough peppers for testing.

In the fall of 2006, the Guinness Book of Records announced that NMSU professor Paul Bosland had indeed confirmed the world's hottest chile pepper, bhut jolokia. At 1,001,304 Scoville units, the pepper is nearly twice as hot as Red Savina, the chile pepper variety it replaces as the world's hottest.

As a way of comparison: Classic Tabasco sauce ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units. Your basic jalapeno pepper measures anywhere from 2,500 to 8,000. The previous record holder, the Red Savina habanero, was tested at up to 580,000 Scovilles.

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