Pickling food by mixing with vinegar has been a method of preservation for thousands of years. Vinegar is an acid and it prevents bacteria from forming in food. In the age before refrigeration, mixing food with vinegar was a perfect way to preserve food.
The practice of combining food and vinegar comes from the Arabic world, where they usually used this method to preserve fish. From there, the practice went to Spain and from Spain it came to the New World.
In the New World, the method was adopted to include local ingredients and it evolved in different countries to make different dishes. By definition, an escabeche will have vinegar, oil, herbs, and spices. Whether it is made with fish, meat, or vegetables, it's the cook’s choice.
In Mexico, we have a few types of escabeches, but none more famous and popular than our chiles en escabeche, whether mixed with other vegetables or not. This is a food item that is never absent from any Mexican fridge or pantry. But escabeches are not merely “pickled” vegetables, they must have olive oil, herbs and spices to make a flavorful mix.
It's very easy to go to the grocery store to buy chiles en escabeche in a can, but making them at home is very easy and the results are delicious. In fact, once you start making them, you will not want to buy them again, as they are far superior in taste and the best part is you know what exactly is in your food.
A batch of these veggies will make enough to last a couple of months, so it's well worth the effort. Eat them with tortas, hamburgers, sandwiches, or pizza.