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.
- Global Semantics: After all, one woman’s spicy is another woman’s mild.
- 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!
Learn More About Peppers, Chillies, Chili & Chile: