Ever growing in popularity, chili peppers of many varieties, offer a spicy- hot taste experience, when served as part of a myriad of dishes which have originated south of the border in Mexico, Central America and South America. Not only do chilies offer a taste sensation, they are also rich in vitamin C and are believed to be beneficial to health.
The name chile, originated as chilatli in the Aztec Nahuatl language, then evolved into the Spanish word chile. Cultivated by early cultures in South America and Central America, chili peppers have been a popular item on the menu, since about 7500 BC.
Christopher Columbus was one of the first Europeans to discover chili peppers in the new world. He called them "pepper of the Indies" because they were similar in taste to that of peppers grown in the Old World .
A physician named, Diego Alvarez Chanca brought the first chili peppers from the West Indies to Spain, after his voyage there with Columbus in1493. He discovered medicinal benefits chilis provided and described them in his writings in 1494.
The spread of chili peppers eventually reached as far as the Philippines, India, China, Korea and Japan, where the new spice was quickly adapted for use in local cuisines.
Chili peppers then spread from India, through Central Asia and Turkey, to Hungary, where they became the national spice in the form of paprika.
Today chilies and southwestern chili-based dishes are popular throughout the U.S.
Chilies for our story were supplied by Tanaka Farm, which is located just south of Longmont, Colorado, off highway 287 in Boulder County. This family-owned farm, which has operated in Colorado since 1920, is known for its fresh, hand-harvested vegetables - which are distributed throughout the U.S.
Owner Dick Tanaka has a reputation of being one of the best farmers in Colorado. Discussing his farm’s history, Dick commented, “Our employees are like a family and some of them have been with us for over thirty years - helping us produce our high quality produce.”
In addition to growing a variety of chili peppers, Tanaka Farm also grows a wide variety of other vegetables, including: acorn squash, American eggplant, bell peppers, broccoli, buttercup and butternut squash, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, decorative corn and gourds, dill, green beans, hubbard squash, Japanese eggplant, jumbo cabbage, pumpkins, onions, red beets, red cabbage, spaghetti squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, yellow squash and zucchini.
The Tanaka Farm roasted chilies we used the to make the green chili to photograph for this story were hot, spicy-rich and terrific!
Historical information for this story was gathered from Web sources and from “Curry” by Lizzie Collingham.