Piment D'Espelette is a medium-heat chile native to Southern France, in the Basque region. Introduced to France from the New World [Mexico and South America] five hundred years ago, Piment D'Espelette quickly became popular as a substitute for rare and costly imported black pepper. It is now a cornerstone of Basque cuisine.
Piment D'Espelette is a key ingredient in piperade, a popular Basque dish prepared with onion, green peppers, and tomatoes sauteed and flavoured with red D'Espelette pepper. Eggs or ham are also often added to piperade.
The Piment D'Espelette is so prized that it has been given a protected designation by the European Union: the appellation d'origine control [aoc], ensuring that only peppers grown in the Espelette region may be labeled as "Piment D'Espelette."