Chilli pepper

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Il nome latino Capsicum deriva da “capsa” che vuol dire scatola, per la particolare forma del frutto che ricorda proprio una scatola con dentro i semi; oppure dal greco “kapto” che significa divorare, con evidente riferimento al piccante che “morde” la lingua quando lo si assapora. Il colpevole di quella sensazione di fuoco che pervade la bocca tutte le volte che assaporiamo il peperoncino è la capsaicina, una sostanza alcaloide senza odore e sapore, che stimola i recettori dolorifici della lingua, dando l’effetto piccante. Il Peperoncino macinato e frantumato Cannamela contiene fino a 300 mg/100g di capsaicina, mentre l’intero arriva a contenere fino a 750 mg/100g.

Il frutto venne chiamato “peperone” a causa della somiglianza nel gusto (sebbene non nell’aspetto), con il pepe, Piperin latino. Nel Nuovo Mondo, era denominato chilli o xilli, e tale termine è rimasto sostanzialmente invariato nella lingua inglese (chili) e in alcuni nomi di varietà, come il chiltepin (Capsicum annuum var. aviculare), derivato dal nauhatl chilitecpintl o “peperoncino pulce”, per le dimensioni e il gusto ferocemente piccante. Il chiltepin è ritenuto l’antenato di tutte le altre specie.

Del Peperoncino si può dire che è proprio un “tipoeclettico”. Come condimento da tavola è il toccoche fa la differenza su ogni tipo di piatto (carni allabrace o in umido, pasta, frittate soprattutto a basedi formaggio, zuppe di pesce profumate all’aglio,formaggi semi stagionati alla griglia e, perché no,cioccolata calda!) e inoltre si presta bene anche perconservare, grazie al suo effetto antibatterico.

Capsaicin is the active component found in chilli peppers responsible for the "hot" sensation invading our mouth when we eat a chilli. This odourless, tasteless alkaloid compound stimulates the mouth's pain receptors, causing vasodilation. The temperature inside our mouth does not actually increase: rather, capsaicin triggers the thermoreceptors that are normally activated when the temperature rises above 40 degrees. This causes the brain to send out a signal associated with the burning sensation. This initial phase, however, is followed by a pleasant sensation. This happens because the sensation triggered by capsaicin stimulates the production of endorphins, natural opium-like hormones that relieve pain. The spiciness of a dish, which can be measured using the Scoville Scale, is determined not by the type of chilli pepper used but by the quantity of capsaicin contained in the seeds' external membrane.

The name "chilli pepper": The fruit is known as "pepper" due to its resemblance in taste (although not in appearance) with pepper, also known as Piper in Latin. In the New World it used to be called chilli or xilli, and the term remained basically unchanged in English (chilli) and in the name of some varieties such as chiltepin (Capsicum annuum of the aviculare variety), derived from Nauhatl "chilitecpintl" or "flea chilli", for its tiny size and fiery taste. Chiltepin is thought to be the forefather of all other species. The Latin name "capsicum", on the other hand, probably derives from the word "capsa", meaning "box", and is a reference to the particular shape of the fruit, which resembles a container with the seeds inside; or from the Greek "kapto", which translates as "to devour", a reference to the hotness of this fruit "devouring" the tongue. The "mouth on fire" effect: Capsaicin is the active component found in chilli peppers responsible for the "hot" sensation invading our mouth when we eat a chilli. This odourless, tasteless alkaloid compound stimulates the mouth's pain receptors, causing vasodilation. The temperature inside our mouth does not actually increase: rather, capsaicin triggers the thermoreceptors that are normally activated when the temperature rises above 40 degrees. This causes the brain to send out a signal associated with the burning sensation. This initial phase, however, is followed by a pleasant sensation. This happens because the sensation triggered by capsaicin stimulates the production of endorphins, natural opium-like hormones that relieve pain. The spiciness of a dish, which can be measured using the Scoville Scale, is determined not by the type of chilli pepper used but by the quantity of capsaicin contained in the seeds' external membrane. How to use it Cannamela's range includes ground, crushed and whole chilli peppers. Whole chilli peppers (including the seeds, which have many beneficial properties) may be crushed before use, obtaining a fine or coarse powder according to personal preference. In this case, it is important to crush the seeds which, if eaten whole, may be irritant for particularly sensitive subjects. To calm the burning sensation after inadvertently eating too much chilli pepper, it is best to avoid water: eating some bread, drinking milk or oil, or chewing on a grain of salt is usually be more effective. Touching your eyes after handling chilli pepper, or rubbing a chilli over your lips while tasting it may be a rather painful experience, and one that is best avoided. History Chilli peppers were known and cultivated 5,000 years ago in Mexico and Chile: the Aztecs used to ground them into a powder or preserve them in vinegar. This plant is native to tropical America, and was brought to Europe by Christophorus Columbus. It was the Spanish who promoted its widespread diffusion, in the hope of profiting from the trade of ground chilli powder, which at the time was a very expensive spice. Chilli pepper was immediately successful, but merchants soon saw their hopes for large profits crushed: the plant rapidly spread across both Europe and Africa and could be easily grown anywhere - so much so that it was subsequently nicknamed "the poor people's pepper". This meant that it was impossible to establish a monopoly on it, control its production and profit from high prices. Fifty years after its discovery, the plant was already widely cultivated and used throughout the old continent for medical purposes.