It is no accident that peppers are the backbone of New World cooking: they originated in South America, probably in a region encompassing parts of Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Bolivia. The Capsicum genus, a branch of the Solanaceae family, contains 31 known species, only five of which are domesticated. Over the centuries, those five species traveled from their places of origin; they were manipulated by farmers so they'd produce a kaleidoscopic array of subvarieties. The majority of cultivated peppers today are of the species C. annuum, which evolved from a tiny, devilishly hot wild pepper and now comprises most of the commercial peppers available in the United States, including jalapeños. C. chinense peppers exhibit a wide range of heat levels and, often, tropical-fruit and herbal notes. C. baccatum encompasses the most important cooking peppers in the Andes, like the fruity aji amarillo. C. frutescens peppers are generally small and slender, ripening to a bright red; they've found a special niche in Central America and other parts of the world. Finally, there are the Andean C. pubescens peppers, lovers of high elevations and cool climes; the species exhibits only a few pod types, of which the chubby rocoto (a mainstay of Peruvian and Bolivian cooking) is the best known.