Although it is known by various names -ají, uchu chili pimiento-, the fact is that the genus Capsicum (group of plants belonging to this fruit and its varieties) originated in Upper Peru, an area that includes the basin Lake Titicaca and what is now Bolivia according to many paleobotanist (scientists that study plants that lived in the past). From this area, thanks to the flow of rivers and migratory birds, chili began his journey that would take him to colonize and conquer the rest of South and Central America, and then the whole world.
In Peru, the oldest archaeological remains that prove their presence were found in Guitarreo Cave , in the province of Yungay (Ancash). These date back to 8,000 years BC. But they are not the only ones. In the line coast there is archaeological evidence of their use in ancient Peru. For example, graves studied in the Huaca Prieta (2500 BC.) , Archaeological site in the Valley of Chicama (La Libertad). There, after exhaustive research and analysis of digestive remains of a local farmer, it was found that a major component of their diet was the chili, snails, crab´s claws and sea urchin. There are also the findings of sunken farms in Guañape, coastal Viru Valley, belonging to the salinar culture (400 BC. BC-100 BC.). In these fields mochero pepper crops were found, among other foods like squash, beans and corn.
Chili was used as offering to the the gods in religious ceremonies and was considered by men of ancient Peru as a sacred symbol. That magical-religious connotation that it acquired this fruit since ancient times remains in Peruvian culture to the present. Proof of this is that paquos or Shamans of the Andes use it until now in their divination rituals and to perfume people who have been possessed by a soul. Moreover, many of these Shamans, as well as in the ritual fasting of the Incas ( before paying tribute to the Pachamama) they avoided eating chili , salt, and sexual intercourses.
We cannot move away from the definition of pepper , the word ” Capsicum ” which is the name of the genre of these species : peppers, chiles, piquines , chiles , hot peppers , sweet peppers and peppers of all colors are some of the fruits They have invaded the kitchen of our great country . They are used as a seasoning, coloring, flavoring, and culinary companion and as a leading ingredient in many of our dishes. Many of them owe their names to these little spicy peppers.
Consumption and use of this fruit is not limited to the role of seasoning, also meets the nutritional requirements demanded by any diner, “contains more vitamin A than any other edible plant also is an excellent source of vitamins B and C , iron, thiamine, niacin, potassium, magnesium and riboflavin. Chili is cholesterol and saturated fats free. It is also recommended for diets low in sodium and high in fiber. Eating peppers improve our metabolism. ”
There are definitely a few dishes of Peruvian cuisine that do not carry pepper. The northern Peruvian dishes, use a lot of yellow pepper; In the Peruvian Andes, red pepper sauce; In the coast of Peru, fresh peppers and hot peppers are more popular ; in the jungle, aji charapita known as “pinguita de mono”.
Peru is probably the country with the most native variety of Capsicum in the world. In local markets is not uncommon varieties of the five domesticated species (C. annuum, C. baccatum L. L. C. chinense and C. frutescens L., C. pubescens Ruiz & Pav.), Corresponding four peppers and hot peppers, while in other countries usually two or three varieties cultivated species are found.