If you live in Atlanta, chances are you eat Tex-Mex food at least once a week. You may go to various restaurants across the city with family or friends, or you may make your own Tex-Mex meal consisting of tacos, nachos, quesadillas or more. When browsing over your menu or jotting down your grocery list, you probably have came across the words “peppers” and “chillies.” Used interchangeably in Atlanta and other cities, these foods are actually two different things, with their own history and specific tastes.
So, what’s the difference? Do you need peppers or chillies to make your next authentic Tex-Mex meal?
Peppers have been traded across the world for over 3,000 years. There are thousands of pepper plants classified in the piper genus. Some of the more popular peppers were used in ancient Egypt and Roman times, where Arab sea traders kept the sources of these peppers secret. Plant species like the piper nigrum, piper cubeba, and piper longum produce fruits that are used as peppercorn to make spices.
Eventually, peppers were traded on land, along the Silk Road. Christopher Columbus was actually looking for the “Spice Islands” when he discovered the New World. Today, thanks to trade and cultivation, peppers are an important part of cultural diets across the world.
Chilies on the other hand were originated in Mexico. Used in traditional Mexican food, chilies are a huge part of Mexican culture and food. Also used sometimes for medicine, chilies have numerous health benefits that have been used since more than 2,000 years ago. Although originated in Mexico, chilies are today cultivated around the world, with Peru holding the highest cultivated capsicum diversity.
Christopher Columbus encountered these chilies when he discovered America, calling them “peppers” because of the similar spicy taste like the familiar peppers in Europe. This is why people often refer to chilies and peppers as the same thing, even though they are not.
What’s The Difference Between Peppers & Chilies?
The distinguishing factor between peppers and chilies is their associated genus in biological classification, a tool used to identify living organisms. Pepper and chili plants have two totally different geneses. A pepper is a member of the genus “Piper” while chilies are members of the genus “Capsicum.” The berries in plants of the Piper genus contain piperine, a chemical associated with a biting sensation.
Although peppers are often referred as “hot” or “spicy” chilies are even spicier. Members of the Capsicum genus have sufficient amounts of the chemical capsaicin, and create an even more noticeable burning or biting sensation.
Should I Buy Peppers or Chilies?
Whether you buy peppers or chilies depends on the food you are making and your taste preferences. If you like really spicy food, buy chilies. On the other hand, if you want something with just a little bit of a kick, buy peppers. Peppers will add flavor to your tacos, nachos, and other Tex-Mex dishes without having you beg for water to cool your mouth.
Peppers and chilies are a great way to add flavor to your meals. However, adding the right ones to your meals can be a difficult task. If you’re in the Atlanta area and looking for a great Tex-Mex restaurant, visit Twisted Taco. Combining fresh ingredients and a fun atmosphere, Twisted Taco is the perfect place to have a lunch meeting or a dinner with family and friends.
Enjoy a meal on one of the outside patio decks, one of over 20 mouthwatering tacos, or a handcrafted margarita. Twisted Taco’s menu truly offers something for everyone with its vegetarian, kid-friendly, and other menu options. Stop by today and enjoy the fun!