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Spice Advice: Cayenne

Spice Advice: Cayenne

There is some debate as to whether the name cayenne comes from “kyinha” in the Tupi language, as once spoken by an indigenous tribe in the Amazon basin of South America, or from either the Cayenne River or the capital Cayenne in the former French colony of French Guiana. Referred to as the “bad boy” of the herbalist world, Nicholas Culpeper, who had a radical approach to medicine, mentions cayenne pepper as a synonym for guinea pepper in his groundbreaking 1653 text Culpepper’s Complete Herbal; notably though, by the end of the nineteenth century, guinea pepper meant bird’s eye chilli or piri-piri. The cayenne pepper, a type of Capsicum annuum, is a bright red (though sometimes orange or yellow, too) thin pepper with a tapered tip that is widely grown on plants with a tree-like structure (though they are technically shrubs) in tropical and sub-tropical regions including parts of India, Mexico, East Africa, and the Unites States. Capsaicin is a natural extract that gives cayenne both its intense heat and medicinal benefits. You don’t want to miss this hot king of medicinal herbs! 
Beyond its prized medicinal qualities, the cayenne pepper is a hot herb that remains a staple in Mexican, Cajun, Creole, Korean, Sichuan, any many other cuisines to add deep flavour to sauces and meat marinades, soups and curries, and even our very own Mexican hot chocolate cookies. That lemon ginger cayenne shot sure will zip your immunity up. Check your fridge for your favorite vinegar-based hot sauce and we bet there’s cayenne in that ingredient list. It’d be a cayenne shame if you don’t work cayenne into the mix!
Get your crab (or shrimp) boil on with cayenne and through in some corn, potatoes, and even lobster tails for good measure. Elotes all day, everyday! Bottle your own hot sauce and label it with your 5-year-old’s original abstract artwork. Be an eggsplorer and shell it out into all types of egg dishes (omelets, deviled eggs, egg salad); it’s hard to beat!


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