There are a half-dozen excellent books dedicated solely to the capsicums—and a dizzying assortment of species in the genus, from the benign bells and bananas to fiery chilies, birds, and bonnets. Native to tropical America, peppers were readily assimilated into the cuisines of the warmer climes, adding relish to the rice-based diet of Southeast Asia and spice to West African greens. Columbus took the plants to the Iberian peninsula, and they quickly gained favor across Europe and Asia as well. Hungarian and Indian cuisine were forever transformed.
By the time the Lowcountry was settled, hot pepper was considered an invariable ingredient in turtle dishes, which had been imported to England from the West Indies. West African slaves and Sephardic Jews in the Caribbean would have already been familiar with the hot peppers endemic to the islands where many came prior to their arrival in Carolina.
No Lowcountry pantry is without a jar of pickled peppers, and kitchen gardens have long boasted numerous peppers, both hot and mild. Wildly promiscuous, new varieties appear yearly in gardens where they are allowed to crossbreed. The following recipes are typical of the Lowcountry’s ways with peppers.
© 1992 All rights reserved. Published by UNC Press.