This is how paprika became such an important part of Hungarian cuisine
Cultivation of the paprika plant dates back to 7000 BCE, per pepper scale, notably in Brazil and Bolivia initially. However, the plant has grown naturally in other parts of the South American continent, as well as in Central America, Mexico and the West Indies, as stated Encyclopedia Britannica. Of course, Europeans didn’t discover paprika until the Old World and New World began to fully interact in the late 1400s.
As Pepper Scale explains, paprika was brought back to Spain for use as a houseplant, a practice that spread throughout Europe. According Hungarian paprikathe plant was found in Hungary as early as the 1500s, but was originally used by the noble caste for the same decorative purpose.
A strange aspect of this story is that paprika had an entirely different name back then, one that has been lost over time. Also, the exact party responsible for introducing paprika to Hungary is unclear. Some claim that the culprit is Portugal since Hungary was looking to replace pepper after the closure of the eastern trade routes. Others point to the Turks, who ruled Hungary in the 1500s and 1600s. It wasn’t until the 1700s, however, that paprika became a kitchen spice and started appearing in recipes. No matter how it happened, the result is the same and Hungarian cuisine is spicier than ever!