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Definition: paprika from Philip's Encyclopedia

Spicy condiment, a red powder ground from a sweet pepper (capsicum) native to C Europe. Family Solanaceae.

Summary Article: PAPRIKA
from Cambridge World History of Food


Because paprika, like cayenne, is made from dried American red peppers (Capsicum annuum and C. frutescens), it is a relative newcomer to the world's spice rack. As a rule, the chillies made into paprika are less potent than those used for cayenne. Chilli peppers were carried by the conquistadors from Mexico to Spain. The peppers subsequently found their way to Poland (the name “paprika” comes from the Polish pierprzyca) and then to Hungary, where they became a vital ingredient in Hungarian goulash - and, in due course, as the Hungarians perfected it, paprika became the national spice.

Paprika comes as sweet, mild, and hot (only the seeds are used for the mild type; the hot version is made from the whole fruit), and the best is made in Hungary; paprika made elsewhere is without much flavor and used mostly for the color it imparts. Paprika both flavors and adorns many Hungarian dishes, and it also spices and colors the sausages of Spain - another country that produces large quantities of paprika for its own national dishes.

Common names and synonyms: Paprika pepper, paprika plant.

See in addition: “Chilli Peppers,” Part II, Section C, Chapter 4.

© Cambridge University Press 2000

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