«pimenta» is not a bell pepper (that would be «pimento» in European Portuguese or «pimentão» in Brazilian Portuguese). «pimenta» is the grated black pepper next to the table salt.
Just to be a little clearer, the chili pepper aka capsicum which comes from the Latin name (aka binomial scientific name) includes the bell pepper but not all peppers of the capsicum genus are bell peppers (peppers are however related to tomatoes and potatoes as well as eggplant; all in the Nightshade family aka Solanaceae):
Peppers are commonly broken down into three groupings: bell peppers, sweet peppers, and hot peppers. Most popular pepper varieties are seen as falling into one of these categories or as a cross between them.
The reason they are commonly called "pepper" is because Columbus was looking for India in order to trade which was driven in large part by spices including the pimenta (Latin = piper) pepper[corn].
Christopher Columbus was one of the first Europeans to encounter them (in the Caribbean), and called them "peppers" because they, like black pepper of the Piper genus known in Europe, have a spicy, hot taste unlike other foodstuffs. Upon their introduction into Europe, chilies were grown as botanical curiosities in the gardens of Spanish and Portuguese monasteries. Christian monks experimented with the culinary potential of chili and discovered that their pungency offered a substitute for black peppercorns.
The tastes (spiciness) though are produced by different chemicals, piperine versus capsaicin.
To get really technical (I guess beyond just nerdy), the chile peppers are a fruit with multiple seeds inside, and the peppercorns are a drupe (like a plum, peach, and even more similar like berries... of which a strawberry is not) .
Some people react violently to bell peppers but are fine with other kinds of peppers. Some believe that the cause is the ripeness of the pepper so a green bell pepper (or even a jalapeño) is a problem but not the red bell.
Here is a relevant snippet from a fascinating transcript on the origin of the piment[ã]o:
BURT WOLF: The small round dry black pepper that we grind in a mill is native to India and was brought to ancient Greece and Rome by Arab traders. It was so valuable in Europe that both the Spanish and the Portuguese spent fortunes sending out expeditions to try and break the Arab monopoly
BARBARA KETCHAM WHEATON ON CAMERA: The king and queen of Spain were anxious to get a new route to the, spice islands of the East Indies, by sailing West. Because, due to political disruption in Asia, the traditional spice routes were breaking down, and it was getting increasingly complicated to get spices from the West.
BURT WOLF: Columbus made an entry in his diary that described the chili pepper as more valuable than the black pepper and pointed out that the natives constantly used it and thought it had health-giving properties. He estimated that each year, 50 ships filled with chili peppers could be sent back to Spain and they would prove to be exceedingly profitable.
Finally, to make this even longer than I had intended, the Pink Peppercorn (Schinus) is not related to either but rather to the cashew and originates from South America including Brazil:
"spice" = «a especiaria»/«o tempero» (the second «e» in «tempero» is pronounced like an «ê» or, in IPA, [e])
Would chili be accepted here? Since chili in French is "piment" and pepper in french is 'poivre".thx
In Portuguese, «pimenta» is "table pepper," what you find next to the "table salt." «o pimentão» (Brazilian Portuguese) or «o pimento» (European Portuguese) is any bell pepper or, by generalization, any of the other bigger and not-ground peppers. «a malagueta» is a type of chili pepper.
I discussed this some time ago with Paulenrique. I thought at that time that "pimenta" could also translate as chile pepper http://apaixonados2.cdn.sloja.net/1152-thickbox_default/jogo-chocolate-com-pimenta.jpg
Note that some Americans spell it as "chili" and other Americans spell it as "chile"