Wild Chiles ~ © Elisabetta Giacon 2014
Peperoni (Italian): also called Peppers (English) or Chiles (Spanish)
Early chiles grew wild and were used and sold by American Natives in many sizes and shades of colors. Chiles ranged in color from yellow, green to red and purple. Their sizes ranged from berry sized to larger than a man’s fist. They were smaller than those grown today. Their flavor ranged from hellishly fiery pungent to mild almost grassy sweet. The very first chiles were bird berry sized.
Whether small or large chiles are the fruit of the Capsicum plant that originally became known as pimento when after 1492 Christopher Columbus and his followers called them as such. By the time Spaniards reached America the fruit of the Capsicum had moved from the Southern regions of America to the more Northern regions of Mexico and to the Southwestern regions of modern United States.
Chiles were commonly sold on the various Native American markets where they were also called chilli in Nahuatl Aztec language. Spaniards kept the name chiles passing the name on to Hispanic North American settlers and Anglosaxon settlers who later came from the Northern regions of North America called them chili peppers.