Chillies originate in South America and have been eaten for at least 9,500 years. Organised cultivation began around 5,400 BC. Christopher Columbus was the first European to encounter chillies, when he landed on the island of Hispaniola in 1492. He thought it was a type of pepper and called it the “red pepper”, a name still used today. After their introduction to Europe they were an immediate sensation and were quickly incorporated into the diet. From there they spread to Arica, India and East Asia.
The reason for the chilli’s “hotness” lies in a chemical called Capsaicin. Capsaicin causes temporary irritation to the trigeminal cells, which are the pain receptors in the mouth, nose and throat. After the pain messages are transmitted to the brain, endorphins, natural pain killers, are released and these not only kill the pain but give the chilli eater a short lived natural high. Other side effects include : an increases heart rate, a running nose and increased salivation and sweating, which can have a cooling effect in hot climates.
The reason for the presence of Capsaicin is thought to be to deter animals from eating the fruit. Only mammals feel the burning effects; birds feel nothing. As birds are a better method of distributing the seeds, which pass intact through their guts, Capsaicin would seem to be a result of natural selection.
The smaller chillies tend to be the hottest. This may reflect the fact that they tend to grow closer to the ground and are therefore more vulnerable to animals. The heat of a chilli is measured on the Scoville scale. The hottest types such as the Habanero and the Scotch Bonnet rate between 1,00,000 and 3,00,000, the world famous Tabasco sauce rates at 15,000 to 30,000, while the popular Jalapeno is between 5,000 and 15,000. Powdered chilli is 500 to 1,000 and the mild capsaicin and paprika can range between 100 and 0.
Write : YES : if the statement agrees with the passage
NO : if the statement does not agree with the passage
NOT GIVEN: if the statement is not mentioned in the passage
1. Chillies became popular as soon as they were brought into Europe.
2. Capsaicin causes significant damage to the mouth.
3. Chillies can be part of a bird diet.
4. All large chillies grow high off the ground.
5. People breed chillies for their heat.