[permaculture] BBC NEWS | Americas | Chillies heated ancient cuisine
Lawrence F. London, Jr.
lfl at intrex.net
Fri Feb 16 02:17:03 EST 2007
Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2007, 03:40 GMT
Chillies heated ancient cuisine
By Dan Collyns
BBC News, Lima
Chillies were tickling the palate thousands of years ago
Archaeologists in Ecuador have found evidence that chillies were used in cooking more than 6,000 years ago.
They say that chilli grains found in south-western Ecuador show they were cultivated for trade and cooking much earlier
than previously thought.
The findings show it was people in this area who first added the spice to cooking and not those in the highlands of Peru
or Mexico as first thought.
The hot new research was published in the journal Science.
These ancient remains of chilli peppers have changed the way scientists think about prehistoric Latin American
agriculture and cuisine.
At around 6,000 years old, the chilli grains show that peppers were among the oldest domesticated foods in the hemisphere.
The team of scientists who made the discovery in a tropical lowland area say the spice must have been transported over
the Andes to what is now Ecuador as the chillies only grew naturally to the east of the mountain range.
The farmers in that ancient village would have been among the first to domesticate the plant.
The remains of the chillies were not well preserved and it was only by finding microscopic starch grains on ancient
pestles and mortars and cooking pots that scientists were able to find any evidence of their use.
It is believed those early Latin Americans would have used chillies with corn and beans.
The author of the report, Linda Perry, says the findings will change perceptions about the sophistication of food on the
continent, thousands of years before Christopher Columbus arrived.
He took the chilli pepper to Europe, from where it spread to the rest of the world.
More information about the permaculture