Did you know that Christopher Columbus discovered me? The famous explorer was on an expedition to ‘seek India by way of the west’ in 1492, looking not only for new lands but also for black pepper,
an extremely valuable commodity at the time – they often called it the ‘new gold’. The Dutch word ‘peperduur’ (‘as expensive as pepper’) also goes back to these times.
But just as Columbus did not arrive in India but in South America, instead of black pepper he found red pepper, or – as the indigenous population called it, – ‘axí’ or ‘chile’, from which we get the name chili pepper.
Columbus wrote of this discovery in his logbook: ‘We found that the country produces much ‘axí’, a pepper that is more valuable and healthier than the common sort.’
Columbus called the local pepper variety ‘pimiento’ (which is now the Spanish collective name for all types of pepper), and a few years later the first seeds were shipped to Europe.