Institute of Macaology, Ji’nan University
China is now the largest producer and consumer of Chilli peppers in the world.
The Chinese have known of the existence of Chilli peppers for only 429 years.
The first reference to Chilli peppers in Chinese classic texts is in 1591.
Before that, of course, Chilli peppers had already been introduced to China.
Chilli peppers went from ornamental to edible.
It has become a long-lasting “spicy whirlwind” on the Chinese table.
Chilli peppers are native to Central and South America.
It was Columbus who brought Chilli peppers back to Europe, starting the “Columbian Exchange”.
It was then spread by the Portuguese to Africa and Asia.
Even in Europe, it was the Portuguese who are credited with its spread.
The route of the Chilli peppers to Asia was from Pernambuco in Brazil to Cochin and Goa in India.
It may then have been introduced to Tibet from India by land.
From the sea, it spread to Malacca, Thailand and Burma.
Then possibly from Burma to Yunnan via the ancient Burma-Yunnan route, and then to Guizhou.
Another possible route was to Zhejiang province by the Portuguese who began to operate in Shuangyu (Liampó) in 1524.
It then followed the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal into the Yangtze River and spread westwards.
Another route was the spread to northern China via the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal.
It was also spread from Shuangyu to Japan, where it was then imported into Korea.
Historical sources show that es in southwest China were imported from Macau.
This is reflected in the names “Hai Jiao(maritime Chilli)” and “Guang Jiao(Canton’s Chilli)”.
The name “maritime Chilli” refers to the nature of the species imported from abroad, while the name “Canton’s Chilli” clearly indicates that it was imported from Canton.
Given that Macao was the only port of commerce in China prior to the Opium Wars, it must have been through Macao, in Canton, that the “Canton’s Chilli” was introduced to south-western China.
Chilli peppers brought a new taste sensation to the Chinese diet.
It led to a “Chilli Pepper’s Revolution” and the creation of a “Chilli Pepper’s Culture” in China.
In this talk, we will also introduce in detail the various names of Chilli peppers and their meanings in Spanish and Portuguese.
The etymology of the English name, Chilli pepper, will be explained.
We would like to highlight once again the great influence that Macao has had on Chinese history and Chinese culture.
This influence is reflected in the Chilli peppers.
More important to the Chinese than the fleeting need for silver, Chilli peppers have influenced the taste of Chinese food and become one of the characteristics of Chinese culture, the origins of which can be traced back to the arrival of the Portuguese in the East and their establishment in Macao.