CHILES THE HEART OF THE CUISINE


Red chile sauce floated into California from Mexico as on a chile river. Discovered by the Spaniards when they rode into the Valley of Mexico in 1521, they filled their pockets with seeds and dropped plants along the way through California, Arizona and New Mexico. The beloved chili came in all shapes and in all degrees of heat.

Chile heat may not be to everyone’s liking, but it is an essential ingredient in Mexican cooking. Where would our beloved enchiladas and tacos be without red chili sauce?

The smell of roasting peppers is addictive, much like he smell of roasting garlic. I roast them over an open flame before stuffing with cheese for chile relenos. The kitchen is filled with the good smell of cooking, and it says that dinner is not far away.

As Californians we understandingly eat a lot of Mexican cuisine. and their are plenty of Mexican taquerias around if you don’t want to cook. Years ago we hosted a couple of teenage boys from Kodiak, Alaska for several days. Knowing the appetites of teenage boys, I prepared a large tray of enchiladas and another of make your own tacos plus a big pot of pinto beans. They ate sparingly, and after dinner they asked to be taken to the nearest Kentucky Fried Chicken store where they purchased several dinners to bring back home. I had not taken into consideration that they had never eaten Mexican food. I guess unless you are raised in the chile river realm, a plate of good old fried chicken is the best bet; after all what’s not to like?

On my first evening in New Mexico, they asked if I liked chiles. Until that time my relationship with chiles was in a pot of beans, which I liked very much. When dinner was served I was surprised to see a large bowl of stewed chiles set before me. I remember drinking a lot of Kool-Ade to cool me down. In New Mexico large strands of chiles are strung together and hung beside the outside door to dry. You just pick one off when you need it.

It’s interesting to find the use of chilies in cooking is world wide. My friend from Jamaica grows the pretty and very hot Scotch Bonnet pepper. Asian cuisine claims other varieties of pepper, and the Middle East uses still another. Chile heat fills your nostrils, makes your eyes water, feels like your mouth is on fire. So why do we love it? Search me; I think it’s just because it’s good.

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Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

8 thoughts on “CHILES THE HEART OF THE CUISINE”

  1. Hi Aunt Kayti, I really like your new blog look! It shows all of us that no matter how old/young we are, we can continue to change. Very open and inviting format. I am off to Montana and Wyoming and will send you photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not a fan of chili’s in any form, don’t care for Mexican food and can’t tolerate anything “spicy”, but, I still loved this post because I LOVE reading about the history and usage of single ingredients in any type of cooking…….very interesting! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Being raised in a Swedish family, in Iowa, mitigated against chiles being any part of our meals. I can’t remember even meeting chiles until I came to Texas. It’s not that Swedish food is unspiced, but the spices were different: cardamom, nutmeg, caraway, dill, cinnamon.

    Honestly? I can’t remember eating “Mexican food” until I hit Texas. As I recall, that might have been when I met Margaritas, too. When I moved to Houston, there still were drive-through drive emporiums. Nothing like stopping after work to pick up a Margarita from a Dairy Queen-like drive through!

    One of the most amusing dining experiences I ever had took place in McAlester, Oklahoma. An assortment of family members met there for some reason, and we went to a “Mexican” restaurant. When the chips showed up on the table, they were accompanied by a salsa which was, in fact, plain ketchup. I still laugh every time I remember that. Whether the place had run out of salsa or didn’t know the difference, I’ll never know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so funny. I never ate any either as a child. If I had to classify food it was probably New England born. Quite plain and plenty of it. When I married I Immediately grabbed a wine bottle, spices and garlic. The only thing I had ever cooked was holding a hot dog over an open flame on the stove till it burned. Our opening breakfast meal was an order of pancakes which I also had never eaten. We ate waffles if at all. The opening dinner was “ham stew” an invention which ended in the garbage can. No wonder I was a willing student at a couple of San Francisco cooking schools. However through the years I have been known to turn out a couple of decent meals.

      Like

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