Jul 22, 2019

Piman or Paprika, What's the Difference?

Piman or Paprika, What's the Difference? photo

It's not unusual to have multiple names for one food, considering all the languages used around the world. This is apparent with what I call cilantro but is often called pakuchi now that it's popular in Japan. Maybe you've wondered about the Japanese names for things, especially when they are written in katakana, and where they came from.

One such food is known as bell pepper in the US but capsicum in British English. The bell-shaped, not spicy peppers are fairly common in Japan during summer too. But what to call them, and why are there so many names for them?

The green type is usually called piman. It's a bit bitter, usually smaller or a thin version of the bell pepper, so it looks like it would be spicy. It's not spicy, but doesn't taste good unless it's cooked. 

You can also find what's called aka piman, the red version, slightly sweet as it's more ripened.

On the other hand we have the round bell shaped paprika. They are usually red or yellow and good raw or cooked. 

I have news for you: All of these are from the same plant.

The only difference is in the color, sweetness, and nutritional value. I had a suspicion which was verified online. The green piman are merely picked earlier, while the brightly colored paprika are ripened longer. 

The Japanese names, piman and paprika are taken from different languages. Piman is a short version of the Spanish pimiento. Paprika (not the spice made from dried red bell peppers) is actually the German word for the vegetable. I'm sure those of you who are German speakers knew this, but it was new information for me.



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