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Spice of the South

Mexican food is usually know for its spice. Spiciness varies from region to region in Mexico according to local culinary traditions but peppers have always been a part of the cuisine. Peppers, specifically chili peppers, are a native plant to the Americas. They love the hot, dry weather that is standard in much of Mexico and the American Southwest.

What makes peppers so hot is the component found in them known as “capsaicin”. This is what gives peppers their heat but also it contributes to their health benefits. Chili peppers are full of vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, copper and antioxidants. The measure of how hot a pepper is is measured by the Scoville heat unit chart. This chart was invented by an American pharmacist named Wilbur Scoville in 1912.

There are so many types of peppers out there from cayenne to scotch bonnet to serrano, jalapeno, bird’s eye, habanero and Thai. One good rule of thumb to remember is that there is a difference in what dried peppers and fresh peppers can be called. For example, dried jalapenos are called chipotle and dried poblanos are called ancho.

Chili peppers are incredibly versatile for cooking too. A little chili pepper added to anything instantly gives more flavor and heat. You can even including it in drinks and cocktails for an unexpected element. And maybe you will remember how amazing these little peppers are when you next eat the dish named after them – chili!

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