Peperoncino is a unique product of the Calabria region.
Peperoncini can be eaten whole, fried until crisp, crushed, powdered or made into a paste with olive oil. It is valued so much that there is a yearly sagra, or festival, in honor of it. I love peperoncino and use it in a lot of my cooking, but visiting Calabria helped me realize how much of a tradition and a way of life this little pepper represents to the people in Calabria. Brought here by the Spaniards, chili peppers found their ideal habitat in Calabria. In the past century, over a million people left Calabria to seek a better life in other parts of Italy and abroad, especially in the United States. Ironically, they took with them their favorite food, crushed peperoncino, now found in every pizzeria across America.
Watch to learn more about why Calabria’s peperoncino is so special: