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
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.
apparently really wanted them to be pepper (pimienta
in Spanish) and to break the hold of the Dutch on their
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 Sorré 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.