Chiles are so central to so many world cuisines, it’s easy to forget that they all originated in the New World. Szechuan chilies, Thai prik kee noo, Indian phiringi jolokia…all of them originated in Central America, more precisely the region of modern-day Ecuador, where locals have been cultivating chiles for some 6,000 years. Indeed Hungary would have no paprika whatsoever had Spanish and Portuguese traders not instigated the chile pepper diaspora in the late 1400’s. Mozambicans wouldn’t have shrimp pili pili, Moroccans no harisa, Malaysians no sambal.
No, without chile peppers world cuisines would be much duller — though arguably safer — experiences. Just one more of the gifts the New World gave to the Old, perhaps with a bit of a snicker.