In the last several years, aguachile – defined by the Larousse culinary encyclopedia as “Ceviche of raw shrimp mixed with lime juice, red onion, pepper, cucumber, chile piquín or chopped green chile” – has emerged as one of Mexico’s most popular restaurant dishes.
In Sinaloa, you’ll meet people who define aguachile by the type and size of the shrimp.
For Velázquez, “Confusing aguachile with the shrimp is a way of erasing the indigenous cultures and the whole story of mestizaje that created it.”
No one quite knows when aguachile became a shrimp dish.
Fernando Covarrubias, a close friend of Valle’s and owner of a catering company in Los Mochis, told me that as recently as 20 years ago, the dish we call aguachile went by another name – camarones ahogados, or drowned shrimp.
In the town’s fortified, pastel-colored center, we met Valle’s friend, César Echegaray, for lunch at his restaurant, where we ate giant grilled river shrimp and several variations on aguachile.
If aguachile has become Sinaloa’s most emblematic dish, that’s in large part because shrimp has become its most emblematic export.
The next day I asked Castro if he’d ever heard aguachile called “Ahogados.” I asked if he thought the dish we call aguachile and the word itself had developed separately and then, at some unknowable moment, come together.
The orginal article.
At least, that’s how I became one, ever since I chomped a farmers’ market cherry pepper at the age of 10.
Nope!For the past few years, I’ve been studying the route(s) chiles took around the globe, with an eye to understanding not just when they arrived in different lands but what happened afterward: How did chiles get so deeply integrated into these cuisines? How did that ferocious shift in food alter their cultures? And what do chiles mean to chile eaters today? This summer, I headed to three countries that were remade by chiles over the past half-millennium - Jamaica, Hungary, and Thailand - to find out.
We had been eating hearty classics of Hungarian cuisine at a cozy spot called Nosztalgia Étterem - stuffed peppers, fatty-chewy tripe in a tomato-paprika sauce, ratatouille-esque lecsó - while discussing the gradations of paprika, the sun-dried, finely ground, relatively mild chile pepper that is Hungary’s national spice.
2013: The Carolina Reaper is named by Guinness World Records as the world’s hottest pepper.
Portuguese apothecary Tomé Pires visited Siam around 1514 and wrote of rice and pepper, and a 1688 account by the French Jesuit Nicolas Gervaise mentions pepper but not peppers.
Heat had been a factor in Isaan cooking for ages, Num told me: “Before the chile came to our region, people in ancient times used pepperwood to spice up the dish,” along with makhwaen, Krachai, and long pepper.
Chiles by the NumbersAnnual per-capita consumption of chiles and green peppers in Mexico: 15.49 kilogramsIn China: 11.58 kilogramsIn the United States: 2.79 kilogramsIn Turkey: 26.79 kilogramsEstimated size of U.S. hot sauce industry in 2018: $1.5 billionProjected size in 2023: $2 billionHeaviest chile pepper: 0.77 lbsLongest chile pepper: 17.72 in Scotch bonnets, I figured, should have great potential in Thailand, but could they take off? Whoever tried one, Prew posited, would like it.
Non-Culinary UsesWith the way chile peppers have found a role in cuisines all over the world, it’s no surprise that people have also found ways to put them to use outside the kitchen.
The orginal article.
AFP Chile has launched a huge hiking route through its Patagonian wilderness to boost tourism and highlight the need for conservation.
The Route of Parks covers 2,800km from the city of Puerto Montt down to Cape Horn.
The land has helped create a network of 17 national parks and the new route – called the Patagonian Route of Parks – connects all of them.
“We want Chile to be internationally recognised for having the most spectacular scenic route in the world, and thus become a benchmark for economic development based on conservation,” said Carolina Morgado, executive director at Tompkins.
A website for the new trail says it encompasses three existing hiking routes – the Southern Way, the Patagonian channels and the End of the World Route.
His widow, Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, signed an agreement with the national government in March 2017, donating the land with the intention of creating a network of national parks roughly the size of Switzerland.
The Great Trail runs for 23,000km from coast to coast across Canada.
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail in the US is about 3,500km long and travels through 14 states from Georgia to Maine.
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Chipotle which bills itself as being somewhat health- and sustainability- conscious, announced its commitment to “Cracking the code” of queso made “With only real ingredients.” The cheese in its recipe was aged Cheddar, combined with both tomatoes and tomato paste, plus three kinds of chile peppers and more than a dozen other ingredients.
Who am I to judge Texas queso? I grew up on the other side of the country-in Connecticut, no less-and first became aware of queso relatively late in life, in college in New York, when a friend who was dating a girl from Austin spoke of it reverentially.
The book, “Queso! Regional Recipes for the World’s Favorite Chile-Cheese Dip,” is a fascinating little volume, as much a cultural history of the state of Texas as a collection of recipes, dedicated to showing that queso is not nearly as simple as one might think.
In the book’s introduction, Fain explains that she grew up eating queso but didn’t consider it deeply until she moved to New York, where she discovered that it was hard to find Velveeta and Ro-Tel in a store, let alone queso in a restaurant; if she wanted to eat the dip, she would need to get creative.
In the early twentieth century, recipes for “Mexican rarebit,” which added chiles to the cheese, began to pop up; one, in the 1914 edition of Boston Cooking-School Magazine, Fain writes, “Was very close to what most would consider American chile con queso today.” A recipe for Mexican rarebit in Fain’s book calls for yellow American cheese, which had become popular by the nineteen-twenties and melts easily, along with roasted Anaheim chiles, corn kernels, and Mexican lager.
In 1943, Ro-Tel tomatoes were born, and a few years later a Ro-Tel ad featured a recipe for making chile con queso with American cheese or a processed cheese such as Velveeta, which contains stabilizers that insure its consistency when melted.
While doing research for her book, Fain discovered quesos that use all kinds of cheese, from American to asadero, Muenster to Monterey Jack, queso fresco, and even panela, which doesn’t melt when heated, remaining in firm cubes for a dish called queso guisado, which is popular in parts of Mexico, Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, and Houston.
A chapter called “Quirky Quesos” includes two vegan recipes, an Indian queso, and a Greek queso from a restaurant in Houston, made with a very meltable Greek sheep’s-milk cheese and served with pita.
The orginal article.
Cabbage is fried with pork and fresh chiles, but the appeal of the dish is the way the invisible presence of Sichuan peppercorns sets your mouth and lips tingling.
There is hardly any heat at all in the “Eggplant with iron plate.” Traditionally made at home for Sichuan spring festivals, the dish was new to me, and I was very glad to make its acquaintance.
One reason to keep your wits about you while eating at Guan Fu is that you can’t always tell when extreme heat is about to rain down like Judgment Day.One of the hottest things on the menu, the Guan Fu-style cuttlefish salad, contains almost no red chiles.
The owners, Li Boru and Xue Wei, moved from China to New York to go to graduate school and wanted to open a restaurant that would evoke the aristocratic cooking of China’s dynastic era.
The bass, clean and fresh tasting, is what I ordered with the pickled vegetables and in an equally heroic dish called “Homemade roasted fish.” The bass was cooked whole and served with crunchy lotus root in a dark, fiery, wonderful stew seasoned with cilantro, Sichuan peppercorns and a 32-ingredient chile oil.
Among the menu’s soft spots were two dishes any Sichuan restaurant should nail.
It is an exceptional one already, throwing open a window on Sichuan cuisine to show New Yorkers the nuance and rich variety that lie beyond the old blast of chiles.
Guan Fu-style cuttlefish salad; jellyfish in home chile sauce; razor clam with green pepper in home sauce; Guan Fu-style bean jelly salad; endive sprout salad in home sauce; all dry pot dishes; “Shange-style” sautéed chile chicken; fried frog with Sichuan pickled pepper; mapo tofu; homemade roasted fish; boiled fish with pickled cabbage and chile; eggplant with iron plate; fried cabbage; spicy oil won ton.
The orginal article.