To some people, hot sauce is that preferred enigmatic flavor of people who muster the courage to spice up their taste buds. Where exactly did this need come from? Who was the first human to ask for more heat in food? Check out these 5 interesting bits on the hot history of heat!
The Aztecs did it!
The Aztecs are the earliest cultural group known to use pepper seeds for different purposes. One of these uses was the original hot cocoa: a concoction made with water, toasted corn, cacao, and hot pepper seeds.
The drink was neither sweet nor creamy. It tasted quite bitter and spicy hot. However, in a time of zero midnight snacks, or a place to get them, a spicy drink made with caffeine, water, and a degree of heat would have kept the busy Aztecs energized, ready for any drops in temperature, and with a curbed appetite. All of these are the effects of capsaicin, the substance that makes peppers hot. This is further proof of one important fact: Hot sauce may be very good for you!
Christopher Columbus named them!
Columbus accidentally landed on this side of the planet in 1492. Once he did, the Columbian Exchange began to slowly unravel, with lots of food swaps and discoveries. Christopher Columbus first named peppers with the name “pimientos” because the only thing in Spain of a similar name were the peppercorns that make today’s powdered pepper, “pimienta”!
It all started in the Medieval Era!
The Aztecs ruled from 1428 to 1520. This was during the same time that Joan of Arc was doing her thing in France, and the 6th “Henry” became king of England. Either way, the Aztecs had their own empire going, and they knew fine well how to manipulate seeds and grow peppers for their regular use.
According to chronicler Bernal Díaz del Castillo, who accompanied Hernán Cortéz in his explorations, there were peppers of all kinds used in the daily cuisine of the Aztecs, along with tons of different fruits and vegetables.
They were used to punish rowdy kids!
The Codex Mendoza of 1542 is an account of the Aztec way of life, written 20 years after the Spaniards conquered Mexico, the land of the Aztecs. In this journalistic account, there is a record of Aztecs using red hot chili peppers (burning hot, not just hot) to discipline rowdy kids. The children would hold the pepper as punishment.