Welcome to what little we know from roughly 5000 years ago from the first domesticated chillis.
The oldest known species is Chiltepin, a small round Berry looking chili, which is thought to be the mother of all peppers, domesticated by the large Central American civilisations. So how Did they use them? What did they have? We know the Spanish left with what we know as Rocoto, Aji Mochoo, Habanero, Cayenne, Jalapeño and Padron.
The Aztec. The Nahuati word Chili is where we got the name we use today. The used it as medicine to treat ailments from depression to sore throats and arthritis. We know the had what we know as Pablano, Jalapeño and the made Mole using chili and Xocolatl (chocolate/coacoa) and preserved Jalapeño with smoke calling it Chilpoctli ( Chipolte). It was used to flavour foods aswell.
Mayan had hot chocolate, but this was made with coacoa, chilli and cinnamon. They used it to flavour food and as medicine in a similar way to the Aztecs. They had Habanero and what we know as Cayenne, but this name wa only given by the French in the 17th century. The Mayan worshiped the Ich ( chilli) as one of the 4 brothers of creation.
The Inca called the chillis Aji or Uchu, both names appear in the history and favoured the hot. They had what we know as Rocotto, and a recorded Aji Mochoo, we believe this is Aji Amarillo in modern translation. Rocotillo was a habanero style hot pepper that we know was also popular. They used it as medicine, often using the dried powder to snort with opioids similar to what we know as cocaine. They made sauces and salsas. Modern Peruvian moto of. "llevanta muertos,” meaning raise the dead is beloved to have been passed done and is used in Peru and Bolivia.
This takes us around the world and back a goid many thousand years. What we have today is such a vast amount of varieties and here in NZ, we are starting to get a great representation of this fruit. We have some great growers and products, although small, are doing fantastic work in expanding Chilli knowledge and growing. We will soon have our own varieties, a large commercial variety and unique sauces. Culleys, firedragon Chillies, Emoyeni Products, Chilleeze NZ are doing amazing things, with international award winning sauces!