Espelette paprika is one of the rare agricultural products that can benefit from the AOC controlled designation of origin, recognized by the INAO (National Institute of Appellations of Origin) in 1999.
It was brought from Mexico and introduced in the Nive valley (France) by a Basque navigator who accompanied Christopher Columbus. At first it was used in medicine. In 1650, it began to be planted in Espelette and was soon used as a condiment to preserve meat and ham. The growing area delimited by the appellation includes about ten Basque municipalities: Espelette, Cambo les bains, Larressore, Souraïde, Aïnhoa, Itxassou, Halsou, Jatxou, Ustaritz, Saint Pée sur Nivelle.
Characteristics: it is a very aromatic bell pepper with a mild spicy point, inferior to pepper. It is a source of vitamin C, B6 and K; its antiseptic and antioxidant properties protect against cardiovascular diseases and improve the immune system. It is recognized worldwide in haute cuisine.