Monday, August 30, 2010

A Note on Terminology

Might as well get this cleared up right away so we are all on the same page. “Chile” is the most common Spanish spelling of the word in Mexico and parts of the US. It refers specifically to the plant and its fruit (chile pepper). However, “chile” can also mean chile sauce which is a soup (or gravy like sauce) made with either green or red chiles, with or without meat, and served alone or “smothered” on anything. “Chile” and “chili” are often pronounced slightly differently. The pronunciation of “chile” is more Spanish – “chill-ay”, “shill-ay” or “chee-lay”.

Green chile (sauce) is made with roasted chopped green chiles and red chile is usually made from chiles dried and ground into powder although it can be made with the fresh roasted red chiles as well. The red is merely the mature form of the green. As the chile turns red it retains the heat characteristic to the specific variety but tastes milder because red chiles are sweeter and the heat is not as noticeable. The red, however, are usually allowed to dry and used as pods, flakes, or powder with different degrees of heat.

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