Diavolicchio Chile Peppers
Diavolicchio or "little devil" chilies are just one of four varieties of hot peppers that bring the heat to Basilicata's spicy cuisine. Along with its less-piquant brothers, the frangisello, cerasella and pupon peppers, the finger-length, horn-shaped diavolicchio pepper is a staple ingredient in the cuisine of Basilicata. Historically, diavolicchio peppers drying in bundles hung from kitchen ceilings, or simmered into the daily meal were thought to ward off malaria, cholera, and worms. Peasants were especially apt to include peppers in almost all of their dishes. In fact, diavolicchio are still referred to as the "pranzo del contadino" or "peasant's lunch," meaning that the region’s poor shepherds often depended upon a few peppers and a chunk of local cacio cheese for their daily nourishment.
Used sparingly in a dish, diavolicchio peppers behave much like salt or freshly ground black pepper; intensifying the flavors of the other ingredients, and providing a subtle base flavor against which the other flavors are heightened. It is difficult to identify the chili itself when used in this way, most often in stews, but the other flavors in the dish come across as noticeably bold.
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