Tuesday, August 14, 2007

cascada post 20

Chile Extranjero Update

chile portrait
Chile habanero (left) and chile extranjero (right)
click here for a larger version

In a previous posting,
cascada post 8, I discussed the beautiful chile pepper (or chili pepper if you prefer that spelling) you see on the right in the picture above. Here locally, in Col. Ursulo Galvan, near Xico, in the state of Veracruz, Mexico, people call this chile "chile extranjero" which literally means "foreign chile". Apparently it originated in the Andes mountains of South America many millennia ago but was not introduced into Mexico until roughly 100 years ago.

The vast majority of chile peppers available in the USA are different varieties (or cultivars) of a single species: Capsicum annuum. The two chile peppers above are both unusual in that neither is Capsicum annuum. The chile habanero is Capsicum chinense (a misnomer since it is not of Chinese origin) and the chile extranjero is Capsicum pubescens. If it has
black seeds you know you have chile extranjero.

Both of these chiles (the habanero and the extranjero) are tasty but very hot. The interior part of the chile extranjero and the seeds are much hotter than the meaty part near the skin. Even just touching the seeds will cause your fingers to burn, even if you wash your hands. Be careful not to touch your eyes after cutting or preparing chile extranjero.

What I learned recently, which did not surprise me, is that 'chile extranjero' is just a local name. Here in the state of Veracruz the correct name is 'chile cera', which literally means 'wax chile'. In much of Mexico it called 'chile manzano' (apple chile), in the state of Oaxaca it is called 'chile canario' (canary chile, because it is yellow), and in the state of Michoacán it is called 'chile Perón'. Click on
this link for more information about Mexican chiles, and look under 'Chile Manzano' for more about chile extranjero, which from now on I will try to remember to call 'chile cera'.