A to Z Chilli Facts

Acne. Before trying some at the dinner table, why not try using some face cream made from chillies: they have miraculous properties when used to combat acne and other minor skin imperfections.

Bhut Jolokia - This is the actual name of the well-known Ghost Pepper. Made Famous on TV for being one of the hottest chillies you can eat.

Christopher Columbus. Chillies have played a part in the human diet since as early as 7500 BC, when the first examples of their use crop up America. Christopher Columbus found them in the Caribbean, decided to name them ‘peppers’, and then brought them back to Europe.

Domesticated species. Amongst edible varieties, there are 5 great families of peppers. The most common are Capsicum annuum, the family which includes cayenne, bell and wax peppers. The spiciest varieties can be found amongst members of the Capiscum chinese family.

Elephants. In order to protect them from these giant pachyderms, plantations are often sprayed with a liquid based on chilli peppers. The elephants simply turn tail when they get so much as a distant whiff of this stinging aroma.

Fresh Chillies - These are best for cooking: their tough skin means that they don’t disintegrate when cooked. Poblano chilies are most famous for their ability to retain their form when heated up.

Growing Tips. Chilies can also be grown in your garden, or on the window sill to name but a few places: they just need sun, a lot of heat, small amounts of water and a high level of humidity.
Hungary. In Hungary, chillies form part of the national spice. Paprika, which is made from chili seeds and dry fruit ground up together, is the basis of goulash, a recipe which mixes meat and spices, and which is famous throughout Eastern Europe.

Intensity. Chillies are one of the most intense taste sensations we can enjoy: when capsaicin, the primary substance found in chilies, is ingested, the sensory nerves of the mouth and throat send a message to the brain, and heart rate and sweating automatically increase, along with our level of endorphins.

Jalapeno - This Mild chilli is one of the most commonly known chillies, when smoked they are called Chipotle Chilli. These chillies are also well known giving a wonderful tex-mex flavour.

Karate. Japanese samurai used chilli peppers in order to reduce the amount of fear they felt: eating them as part of a ritual meal before battles made them feel invincible. Even those who practice karate often eat them before a fight.

Latin Name. Capsicum annuum. Capsicum annuum is a species of the plant genus Capsicum native to southern North America and northern South America. This species is the most common and extensively cultivated of the five domesticated capsicums. The species encompasses a wide variety of shapes and sizes of peppers, both mild and hot, ranging from bell peppers to chili peppers.

Medicine. Chilli pepper extract is a medicinal marvel: it combats prostate cancer, herpes and diabetes, and is a natural painkiller, helping those suffering from arthritis and headaches. It also speeds up our metabolism.

Naga Viper. One of the spiciest chillies is the Naga Viper, a genetically modified mix of the most powerful varieties, created in an English greenhouse.

Origin. Mexico was home to the first chilli peppers, and today 90% of all chillies cultivated and consumed the world over are of Mexican origin: from those used in Indian curries to Hungarian paprika, and in favourite recipes based on the red fruit from China to the Mediterranean.

Placenta. Not the one you are thinking about but the fleshy white part of the chilli connecting the seeds is the actual hot part of the chilli. It is called the chilli placenta. Most people incorrectly think it’s the seeds that give the heat but the seeds only have some heat because they are in contact with the placenta of the chilli.

Quantity. Amongst the world’s most common foods by quantity, chilies come second only to salt. In addition to the huge quantities of it consumed, it also wins the prize for highest quantity of vitamin C - higher than any other edible vegetable.

Red Hot Chilli Peppers. This LA rock band took their name from the red spice. The singer and leader of the group, in his Autobiography, explains the link with chili peppers in this way: “If, to you, chilli peppers are a feeling, a sensation or a form of energy, then you’ve guessed right.”

Spelling. It’s called a chili, but there’s no link to the nation Chile. Its spelling varies amongst different nations: it can be ‘chile’, ‘chilli’ or ‘chillie’, but it’s also called ‘piment’ in France, ‘piemento’ in Spain, and ‘peperoncino’ in Italy.

Toothache. The Mayans used chillies to rub into gums to help with toothache.

Uses. A king in the worlds of food, medicine and beauty Treatments, chillies form the base of massage oils and
Anti-cellulite creams, and its powder makes great anti-ageing masks and preparations which can enliven dull hair.

Vasodilator. Add a pinch of chili pepper to your dinner to ensure a sexy evening. Amongst its other properties, it also acts as a vasodilator, increasing blood flow, lowering inhibitions and improving male sexual performance.

Weapons. Indian scientists have been working on special Grenades which can be packed with chilli pepper in order to harm the enemy, and other weapons already exist featuring ammo based on a the spice, from pistols to the pepper sprays used by the police.

Xmas Tree. A Mexican classic: instead of coloured baubles, lights and tinsel, Christmas trees here are turned red, orange and green by the many chillies hung on their branches.

Yellow. Chillies don’t always have to be an intense red or green: there are many yellow varieties, including the ‘hot lemon’, which takes its name from the yellowest fruit of all. Chillies of this color are great when fried or used to make jellies.

Zulu. Zulu Zulu peri peri is the name of very spicy African sauce. Containing no preservatives, but packed full of chillies and tomatoes, in Africa its recipe has been handed down from generation to generation for over 400 years.