Some people apparently became so addicted to
the taste of hot food that they carry little jars of chopped dried
chilies around with them and scatter them over every meal. Although this
is a bit extreme, it is chilies more than any other ingredient that
spice up our mealtimes.
Chilies are the most important seasoning in
the world after salt. Unlike peppers, to which they are closely related,
the different varieties of chili can have widely different heat value -
from the "just about bearable" to the "knock your head off" variety.
Anaheim Chili : A long, thin chili
with a blunt end, named after the Californian city. It can be red or
green and has a mild, sweet taste.
Ancho Chili / Pepper : These look
like tiny peppers. They are mild enough to taste their underlying
Birdeye or Bird Chili : These small
red chilies are fiery hot. Also known as pequin chilies.
Cayenne Pepper : This is made from
the dried, ground seeds and pods of chilies. The name comes from the
capital of French Guiana, north of Brazil, although the cayenne chili
does not grow there any longer and the pepper is made from chilies grown
all over the world.
Early Jalapeno : A popular American
chili, which starts dark green and gradually turns to red.
Habanero : Often called Scotch
Bonnet, this is the hottest of all chilies and is small and can be
green, red or yellow. Color is not real guide to its heat properties, so
don't be fooled into thinking that green ones are mild. They are all
very hot. The habanero comes from Mexico and is frequently used in
Mexican and Caribbean dishes..
Hot Gold Spike : A large, pale,
yellow-green fruit grown in the south-western United States and it is
Poblano : A small, dark green chili,
served whole in Spain either roasted or grilled. They are mostly mild
but you can get the rogue fiery one, so beware if eating them whole.
Red Chili : These are long, rather
wrinkled chilies which are green at first and then gradually ripen to
red. They are of variable hotness and, because they are so long and
thin, are rather fiddly to prepare.
Serrano Chili : A long, red and
extremely hot chili.
Tabasco : A sauce made with chilies,
salt and vinegar and first made in New Orleans. It is a fiery sauce,
popular in Creole, Caribbean and Mexican cookery - or indeed in any dish
requiring last minute heat.
Yellow Wax Pepper : Pale yellow to
green, these can vary from mild to hot.