Personal Finance

Pepper Disguised as a Chile: Hungarian Wax Pepper

Is it just me, or is the difference between a Chili and a Pepper a little confusing? When it comes to saving money on food, I adore them both because they are both major flavor boosters. You’ll never find my home pepper or chili free. Here’s the weird thing. After a farmer at the Union Square Farmers market in NYC told me to “just toss them in your freezer” I started storing chilis in the freezer. For some reason, I just never felt right tossing a big ole bell pepper in the freeze. Which made me question, why do I treat them differently? Are they different names for the same thing?

Botanistically speaking, both are nightshade, fruit born from the flower of the Capsicum Species plant. Yep, that’s right a spicy/sweet fruit not a veggie even though it’s green, check. Got it. Hmmm ok so, the same right?

By the time I waxed myself into a Hungarian Pepper corner between papryka słodka (sweet pepper) and papryka słodka (sweet pepper) I nearly gave up. Wait in Hungary both Spicy and Sweet are Peppers?

In my mind, when the Chile Pepper Institute Experts are quoted as saying:

“In casual speech, chile has come to imply a hot pepper, not a sweet one.”

Then I feel completely justified taking the Occam’s Razor approach to my confusion. It’s semantics not science. So why all the confusion anyway?

Most likely we’ve got Christopher Columbus and his endless curiosity to thank here.

“Fascinated by the plant and its fruit, Christopher Columbus and his crew collected the seeds and plants and brought them back to Europe where they got popular very quickly and spread rapidly across the world through colonial trade networks.”

Fast forward to today and the Chile, Chili, Chilli, Pepper confusion proliferation comes down to two factors.

  1. Global Semantics: After all, one woman’s spicy is another woman’s mild.
  2. Sheer volume: There are almost 3,000 cultivars grown around the world.

I don’t know about you but, exploring my culinary curiosity always makes me hungry. Which takes me back to the point of this post in the first place, the Hungarian Wax Pepper.

Between the similar looking Banana and the Hungarian Wax pepper,  I’m a heat seeker going for the Hungarian Wax every time. I like that it bites back with a little more heat than a Jalapeño with a SHU (Scoville Heat Units) of 5,000 to 10,000. Plus the uniquely sweet, tangy flavor of the Hungarian Wax Pepper is a lot of fun to play with in the kitchen.

Last week, I counted on the waxed texture and heat to give a little bite to a dish that combines Seafood and Cheese… what YES, they do go together! 

Baked Shrimp With Hungarian Wax Peppers and Cotjia
Baked Shrimp With Hungarian Wax Peppers and Cotjia

Learn More About Peppers, Chillies, Chili & Chile:

12 comments

    1. I love them both, enough to go food geek on them! I did not fully appreciate peppers until a few years ago when having Yellow, Orange and Red together out of a garden in a dish. Right now I am on a pepper exploration kick apparently. Thank you for taking a second to help this curious foodie not feel lonely in her confession of confusion!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Anytime! Also, do you think there is truly a difference between green, red, orange and yellow bell peppers? I feel like green and red taste different, but maybe they taste different in the sense that different color M&M’s taste different: it’s all in my head.

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        1. I do, but it’s definitely not a “never use red when it calls for yellow” type of difference. Green to me is the only Bell Pepper I actually do not like. I’m working on it… I know it’s really about the right recipe. So far I just like them in Chili (like the soup – no pun intended!) Red, Yellow and Orange are much more mild and sweet and I feel pretty comfortable using them interchangeable. As much as anything, when I can, I use two of the four to get a visual and taste difference. Green + Red for Chili, Yellow + Red for Fajita or any dish where I want a sweeter flavor and bursts of color. How about you? I love the M&M reference BTW!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’m not a fan of green—I only use it buried in recipes like chili or meatloaf. I think red is sweet and delicious, and I use a combo of red, yellow & orange for fajitas! I think red is my favorite.

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  1. I am still confused about the two! So basically, the spicy one is the chili and not-so-very is called pepper? Regardless of the color?

    And oh, the picture looks so divine! I am heading now to that post for the recipe. Thanks again for sharing! 🙂

    Like

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