Origins of Chilis

The Origins:

The Chili genus Capsicum,  (Caribbean Native word) ‘Aji’ have one of the richest histories in the plant world: The word ‘chili’ is ancient and likely originated with the pre-mayan Olmec people. Native to Central American rainforests, it was originally cultivated by these ancient earth walkers. Later harvested by the Mayans,Toltecs, Aztecs, Caribbean Taino, Arawak, Amerindians and Carib Indians.

1200, Aztec culture: The Aztecs attributed the creation of the cocoa plant to their god Quetzalcoatl who, descended from heaven on a beam of a morning star carrying a cocoa tree stolen from paradise. In both the Mayan and Aztec cultures cocoa was the basis for a thick, cold, unsweetened drink called xocoatl… believed to be a health elixir. Since sugar was unknown to the Aztecs, different spices were used to add flavour, even hot chili peppers.

Christopher Columbus discovers the New World in 1492 while trying to find a short cut to the East Indies. He sampled a plant, thought it was a relative of the black pepper, and dubbed it a “pepper.”

So began several hundred years of misinformation about chili (chile, chilli)  peppers. Unlike what Christopher Columbus thought, they aren’t related to black pepper and they didn’t originate in India.

Columbus discoverschilis in the caribbean

Columbus 1492


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