Paprika is the dried, ground pods of Capsicum annum, a sweet red pepper. It is mildly flavored and prized for its brilliant red color.
Paprika is used in seasoning blends for barbeque, snack foods, goulash, chili, and in the cuisines of India, Morocco, Europe, and the Middle East.
Paprika is primarily produced in Spain, Central Europe, and the United States. Although both Spanish and domestic paprika are mild and sweet in flavor, several important differences exist. Domestic paprika is characteristically fresh, green, and vegetable-like, while the Spanish paprika exhibits a more fermented and piquant flavor. Historically, the Central European varieties were more pungent, but they now exhibit a sweetness similar to Spanish paprika.
Early Spanish explorers took red pepper seeds back to Europe, where the plant gradually lost its pungent taste and became "sweet" paprika. A Hungarian scientist won the Nobel Prize for research on the vitamin content of paprika. Pound for pound, it has more Vitamin C than citrus fruit.