Fascinating facts about our favorite food

DID YOU KNOW chile originated in Bolivia? “Bolivia?” you’re asking yourself. Yep, Bolivia. Well, some ancient historians say Peru. OK, whatever. In any case, archaeologists (with seemingly nothing better to do!) suggest that chile made its first appearance sometime between 5000 and 3000 B.C. Spanish Conquistadors later picked it up and spread the spicy wealth throughout the New World.

DID YOU KNOW that a “chile pepper” isn’t really a pepper at all? Folklore has it that the misnomer was Christopher Columbus’ bad. Supposedly, Columbus associated the flavor and resultant heat with that of black pepper. Fact is, chile is actually a fruit–like potatoes, eggplant, and tomatoes. But hey, it was the 15th century after all. And Chris had never experienced a delicious New Mexico chile relleno. But you can. Order Chile Traditions’ very own chile rellenos right here online.

DID YOU KNOW the difference between green and red chile? Time. A red chile is just a green chile, only ripened. Are there differences in taste? The best way to find out is to try both for yourself…and Chile Traditions can help you to do just that–red or green!

DID YOU KNOW that chile has a high nutritional–even medicinal–value? Green chile is high in vitamin C, while red is loaded with vitamin A. Capsaicin, the naturally occurring ingredient that makes chile hot, has been used to treat nerve-related pain, pain from osteoarthritis, and skin conditions such as psoriasis. Medical research even suggests capsaicin may be effective in helping prevent and possibly cure of prostate cancer.

DID YOU KNOW the name of the hottest chile on the planet? Some demented grower is always coming up with a hotter variety, but researchers, chileheads, and record books seem to agree that the Trinidad Scorpion pepper is the hands-down (or hands OFF!) winner. These lumpy little red monsters (named “scorpion” after their scorpion-like tail) pack a walloping 1.4 million SHU (that’s Scoville Heat Units, the international measure of heat in chiles and peppers). So what? So this: the average jalapeno puts out a wimpy 2,500 to 8.000 Scovilles. More perspective? Cooking with the Scorpion requires handlers to wear chemically resistant body suits, gloves and masks…and they still report finger and hand tingling and numbness for days after!

DID YOU KNOW that for years, a hot (you should pardon the pun) and heavy debate raged over the spelling of “chile” in New Mexico? Is it with an “e” or an “i.” Well, you obviously know the answer where Chile (with an “e”) Traditions is concerned. Folks in the know around these parts never backed off the idea that “chili” was a spicy, meat-based stew (as in “chili con carne”), while “chile” was a capsaicin-based pepper that just happened to be New Mexico’s most important agricultural product–and a dietary staple for anyone who calls the Land of Enchantment home. But in the late 1980s, then Governor Toney reportedly settled the argument, when he signed off on a fictitious law declaring “chile” with an “e” New Mexico’s official spelling, and that anyone caught doing otherwise would immediately be deported to Texas. No offense intended, Texan neighbors…and to you, a hearty, “Yee-haw!”

Got a fun fact or colorful story about chile? Post it to the Chile Traditions Blog or on our Facebook page!