A personal diary about life in a country town, Bungendore NSW Australia

  Sunday 24 March 2003

Chopped ripe tomatoes and a couple of cloves of garlic, yellow capsicums... see the recipe. 
At summer's end, let's eat.

That's it for the capsicums/peppers and chillies. So, one last Spaghetti ai peperoncini verdi for the year, at least made with our own vegetables. It was a good year (best yet) and the capsicums did well with the drip irrigation. It amazing! Add water and plants grow (good soil in the no-dig beds helped as well).

The ones in the bowl above are Oriental red chillies, Sweet Mama capsicums and Yellow capsicums. The hot dry summer suited them. It's been hard to get capsicums to grow as big as these and some were attacked by bugs, but we'll definitely plant the yellow curved ones again.

Planting, testing, changing the varieties, testing again. We've had seven summers here and we're still getting the feel of the climate and seasons. It's disappointing when we plant a new variety like a whole bed of basil seedlings this year, and they bolted to seed early, robbing us of the basil leaves in olive oil we keep in the fridge for winter pesto.

The hot and mild varieties of peppers are all descended from Capsicum annuum a genus of the family Solanacea which relates them to tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines (and deadly nightshade). Columbus, when he was looking for his shortcut to the East Indies for spices, found America and also the Caribbean islanders using hot capsicums for cooking. The Oxford Companion to Food records the confusion over their name, peppers? chillies? capsicums? and what they're called in different countries. Alan Davidson explains that it stems back to a conflict between the Dutch traders, and everyone in Europe that they traded their true black pepper, Piper nigrum with.

Columbus, apparently really wanted them to be pepper (pimienta in Spanish) and to break the hold of the Dutch on their valuable spice used extensively to hide the flavour of 'off' meat. He called the new plants 'pimiento' and most Europeans seemed happy to also call them peppers. Fearing that this new cheap spice would supplant their expensive black pepper, the Dutch tried to enforce the Mexican Indian's name for the plant, chilli. Today, we call them capsicums here, the English and Americans call them sweet bell peppers and we all reserve the chilli tag for the hot smaller varieties.

It doesn't matter much, they've been cultivated in South America for thousands of years and are depicted on pre-Columbian ceramics dating from 5000 BC. Europe adopted them eagerly around 1500 AD and they quickly spread to India and Eastern Asia. I planted these in early November last year. 
  


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There's a website dedicated to the culinary adventures of Christopher Columbus as part of the site of Tuscan wine producer, Castello Banfi. Written by Lucio Sorr it has some translation quirks from the Italian, not the least is the title - Christopher Columbus, his gastronomic persona. There are even some recipes linked to the legacy of food introduced by Columbus.

  Fred Harden 2003 <thinktag> After a few days, these entries are added to the Archive Menu