Very similar to the evil eye, the good luck charm that is believed to protect its bearer from the envy and harmful intent of others, is the red chili pepper. In Italy, this traditional charm is thought to prevent the hurtful gossip of envious tongues, while also attracting good fortune to its owners. It is a belief that originated in Naples but which soon spread throughout the rest of Italy and, in time, became widely known to most Western cultures.
Although the reasoning behind this charm and its protective qualities is quite obvious ―namely, that chili peppers are so hot they can prevent tongues from wagging― there is also a perplexing acronym associated with this object, the acronym RRR. For the especially inquisitive, this acronym can be broken down into its respective parts: the first R stands for the word Rosso (red), the second R for Rotto (broken) and the final R for Regalato (gift). The explanation is, therefore, that red chili peppers offer someone the gift of breaking or, rather, stopping the bad words of others who might wish to speak ill of them.
And how, one might ask, did this pepper actually arrive in Naples and the rest of Italy, so as to carry with it all the aforementioned remarkable qualities? Its transportation from the Americas to Europe has been attributed to Christopher Columbus, while its unique properties had already been known to the native inhabitants of the American continent for millennia.
Indeed, the beneficial properties of this red fruit are quite impressive. It contains a wide range of vitamins, mainly C as well as A, B, D.PP, B2 and E. The latter improves the oxygenation of the blood and, therefore, is linked to higher fertility. Red chili peppers also contain vitamin K, which is anti-haemorrhagic and has a positive effect on blood coagulation. Additionally, they contain carotenoids and metal salts which improve digestion and gastric secretions. They have been known to possess anti-depressant and anticholesterolemic qualities, while also helping reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease through the stimulation of tissues and activation of the heart capillaries.
In terms of local cuisines, the red chili pepper is truly an essential ingredient in Southeast Asian countries, such as Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan, as it endows food with powerful flavor.
See our garland with 20 handmade wooden peppers here