"Pepper-Pot: A Scene in the Philadelphia Market," is a painting by John Lewis Krimmel (1786 – 1821). Krimmel was born in Germany, and immigrated to Philadelphia, where he painted this work in around 1811. "In the 1790s Philadelphia became a refuge for Afro-Caribbeans fleeing war in Haiti. Cooking inexpensive local foods with Caribbean spices, Haitian immigrants helped create a unique Philadelphia cuisine. This included pepper-pot, a thick, spicy soup made of vegetables and tripe, ox-feet, or other cheap meats, sold by street vendors for a few pennies." (source)
I learned of this painting in the book Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots along the Pepper Trail by Kurt Michael Friese, Kraig Kraft, and Gary Paul Nabhan, in their chapter on the peppers grown in rural Maryland and nearby locales. They trace these peppers to Afro-Caribbean slaves who were brought to the area in the eighteenth century, linking a preparation called picalilli to the Caribbean peppers called pilipili. In this painting, and in the pepper-pot dish depicted, they find a combination of history, language, food ways and culture --
"Pilipili, it turns out, is the name for red peppers in Swahili, Zulu, and Lingala dialects from sub-Saharan Africa, but it is entomologically related to berebere, fulful, and filfil. Those terms were first used for black pepper in North Africa and the Middle East, and later applied to red peppers or chiles. ... The name might have arrived in Maryland with West African slaves or, more likely, with their descendants ....
"The slaves brought up from the Caribbean could have also carried along in their heads a recipe for a spicy fish, pork, or chicken dish historically called pepper pot.... still occasionally prepared in the metro Philadelphia area just to the north of rural Maryland.... Pepper pot is still served in the Caribbean made with the locally available meats of chicken and pork. These dishes seem to be a derivative of the West African dish known as callaloo, a spicy vegetable stew." (Chasing Chiles, pp. 155-156)The existence of this very interesting painting is one of many things I learned while reading Chasing Chiles, which was published in 2011. The three authors spent a year exploring the regions where a number of very specific chile peppers are grown, searching for evidence of how farmers and local users of chile peppers are adapting to a variety of changes in conditions for growing these rather sensitive crops. Increased or decreased rainfall, violent storms and hurricanes, unexplained pests and plant diseases, advances in industrial agriculture and seed production, and changing demand for their products all affected these small-scale agriculturalists. The book is full of details about various chiles and their history and use, including a few recipes.