Pepper (Piper) contains over a thousand species of grasses, climbing shrubs and vines, many of which are key species in their native habitat. Most of the pepper species grow in the tropics of both hemispheres, but more in tropical America and in the monsoon regions of East Asia.
The first written sources mentioning pepper were found in India and written in the ancient Sanskrit language more than three thousand years ago. India is considered the birthplace of pepper, although it grows in other tropical countries.
The pepper, known to us as black, is native to Indonesia and East India. In nature, it looks like a shrub, the branches of which resemble vines and entangle the trees growing nearby.
Black pepper appeared in Europe about six centuries ago and was initially highly prized. At that time, pepper was literally worth its weight in gold, and they could pay for any product.
Peoples once conquered with pepper paid tribute to the conquerors. In the 5th century, the Visigoth king Alaric I and the ruler of the Huns Attila demanded more than a ton of black pepper from Rome as a ransom for the fact that the attacks on Rome would be stopped.
The Spaniards were the first to get acquainted with the red pepper growing in America. It was they (or rather Christopher Columbus) who brought red pepper to Europe. From Spain, he went to neighboring Italy, and then to other countries. But many peoples still call this spice "Spanish pepper".
Red pepper made a huge impression on the Europeans who went to conquer wild America. They first met him thanks to the Indians, who fought off the whites with the help of red pepper, sprinkled on embers when the wind blew towards the conquerors.
The name of chili pepper in Russian is consonant with the name of the country of Chile, however, it comes from “chilli” from the Nahuatl languages of Astek (modern Mexico) and translates as “red”.
Until the 16th century, red pepper was unknown in Russia, since it grows only in the tropics. Pepper has long been cultivated in India and other Asian countries, and now it is grown even in the Krasnodar Territory and the Volga region.
Everyone knows about the pungent properties of hot peppers. And the alkaloid substance capsaicin, contained in the fruits, gives it pungency. Dry red peppers contain nearly two percent capsaicin.
Hot red peppers not only add spice to dishes, but also saturate them with vitamins, in particular groups A and C. In addition, pepper contains sugar, protein and minerals, so it is very useful.
Capsaicin, which is found in the tissues, gives the pungency of red pepper. This alkaloid not only acts on the receptors, thanks to which we feel the hotness of the pepper, but also helps to improve blood circulation.
The alkaloids contained in hot red pepper stimulate the synthesis of serotonin in the body, under the influence of which a person feels a sense of joy. Therefore, the use of hot peppers can be recommended for people prone to depression.
One of the most famous hot peppers - chili - helps burn calories in the body, so it should be used for weight loss. When a small amount of chili is added to any dish, about 45 calories are "extinguished".
Everyone knows the pepper plaster, for the manufacture of which hot peppers are used. But pepper also finds other uses in pharmaceuticals. It is used to make appetite, circulation, digestion, and warming ointments.
Not all red peppers are hot. There is a pepper with minimal pungency called sweet pepper known as paprika. The sweetness of paprika fruit varies from mild to very high. Pepper paprika is a popular vegetable crop. Many people know sweet peppers as "Bulgarian", but nobody knows where this name came from. There is an assumption that from warm Bulgaria the first fruits of sweet pepper first came to Ukraine, and then to Russia.
In the old days, pepper could not only pay for goods, but also pay fines. A historical document from France indicates that a three pound pepper fine was imposed on the people of Béziers who were responsible for the death of Viscount Roger. Once upon a time, prosperous merchants were called not "bags of money" as they are now, but "bags of pepper." But this title obliged the merchants to be honest. After all, the punishments for counterfeiting pepper in those days were very harsh.
India is rightfully considered the birthplace of pepper, since it was from there that the first spices came to Europe. But at present, the main producer of spices coming to European countries is not India, but Vietnam.