The 14 Spicy Food Cultures of the World


During my preliminary research in the weeks before launching my Kickstarter, I ran across this line.

“There are 14 ‘high pungency’ cultures in the world where the use of [chili peppers] is predominant in nearly every dish.”

14 chili pepper loving cultures, eh? I went to the article index to see, what where those those 14 countries were, and and was unable to find a list. I searched online, in academic databases, but found nothing.

So, I decided to come up with it myself. So, without further adieu, the Spicy Quest list of the top 14 Spicy Food cultures of the world, no particular order. I went with a liberal definition of culture – one that, personally, I find offensive as a South Indian, but, considering the Eurocentricism which dominates academia, I imagined was intrinsic in the original statement.

  • South Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh)

  • Polynesian SE Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei)

  • Buddhist SE Asia (Thailand, Laos, Burma, Vietnam)

  • Himalayas (Bhutan, Nepal, Sikkim, Tibet?)

  • China (Sichaun and Hunan provinces)

  • Indigenous South America (Bolivia, Ecuador, Amazon)

  • American Desert (US Southeast, Mexico)

  • Korea Peninsula Sphere (Korean regions in China, Korea, and Russia, nearby Japanese and Chinese islands)

  • East Mediterranean (Syria, Lebanon)

  • Southern Africa (South Africa, Mozambique)

  • West Africa (Guinea, Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal, Liberia)

  • Caribbean (Trinidad, Jamaica)

I’m sure I’m missing a few here. Does the ambiguity of a “culture” means that Nepal and Bangladesh fall under the veil of India as I placed it? Is Louisiana really akin to Mexico and the Southwest? Do you agree? Disagree? Did I miss your culture?

And, today, are new cultures at the point of pungency? Has spicy food from India made Britain the 15th chili pepper culture?

Share what you think in the comments below, and check out our Chili Pepper map, tracing the chilies path from Asia and highlighting some of the most unique peppers from around the world.

See also >>  Chilies in the wild

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