Richard Brooks Alba
- Joined: 12/20/2000
- Location: Lexington, KY
RE: green sauces and salsas+chile verde
Tue, 05/27/03 6:52 PM
Originally posted by Jennifer_4
Originally posted by Richard Brooks Alba
I remember from my youth the Mexican restaurant 'gringo' shuffle: "Is green hotter than red - or milder? I forget." And that question STILL seems to get posed far too often in a place that should fundamentally understand that it all depends on the ingredients. If you don't know your chiles (and even if you do - the naming conventions have gotten pretty sloppy because of lapses of attention, memory, mental discipline, whatever...), you have to sample. "What if it's too hot?" Always sample as if it will be. Those of us who have been eating this stuff since infancy still sample [unless we really already know] before diving in. I long ago gave up trying to get people to just taste, rather tha play '20 Questions' to determine whether their tastebuds might be at risk for permanent damage. I now encourage those folks to eat something besides Mexican, lest a stray pepper injure their digestive tract.
Even within my own family, there's a tremendous breadth of variation in how we prepare our salsas - my mom cooked all her salsas, my sister does it all in a blender, and I like to blacken my chiles [fresh serranos, typically] and tomatoes before I chop up my salsa fresca. We all like tomatillos, but almost never make salsa featuring them - consequently, our family gatherings can feature 100% red salsas. (Unless I make my yellow salsa [yellow tomatoes, pineapple and/or mango, serranos, lime juice, easy on the cilantro] for some nice grilled fish.)
P.S. The usage of "Hispanic" in this forum (and elsewhere in the universe) warrants some attention here. Except in reference to things or people from Spain - or of, or under, Spanish influence - "Hispanic" isn't properly used to describe all peoples from - or with origins in - Latin America. Many, but not all, speak [or come from traditions of speaking] Spanish. The preferred term for this group, at least in the communities that I've encountered in my limited travels, is "Latino." The term is used for broad-community references, not for narrow-community reference. In the same way that "European cuisine" would lump 'Wiener Schnitzel' with 'bangers & mash,' "Latino cuisine" would lump 'tacos de pescado' with a 'Cuban sandwich.' For the purpose of this forum, 'Mexican' (and other nationalist references) is exactly what's called for. Where things get especially confusing - and why "Hispanic" muddies the water - is that there are foods mentioned here that are pre-Hispanic (or 'pre-Columbian,' if you prefer), like corn tortillas. (Other pre-Hispanic offerings would include tomatoes & chocolate.) Many folks that you might find in California & elsewhere in the Americas today were never vanquished by the Spanish - only recently, in the time of agricultural collapse in their communities of origin, have they even learned a little Spanish [& more recently, English] to get by economically. Latinos understand & [mostly] accept "Latino" - Latinos understand & [often] resent "Hispanic." While not exactly derogatory, it does push our buttons. Think how you would feel if you were called 'English' for the fact that you spoke English, rather than be called 'American.' In some places, 'Hispanic' is used as code for Latinos who have 'pure' European/Spanish blood - so if you think you can tell them apart by looking, they are most definitely NOT 'Hispanic'....
I find that rather amusing because the Mexican political groups here in Cali were the ones to demand the use of the term "Hispanic", and only the barrio dwellers were using "Latino" at one time..dunno how it is up north where you are Richard, but that's the climate here in the central valley.
The valley seems to be a real piece of work - I'd guess that the preference out there for "Hispanic" has to do with political ideology more than anything else. Other than the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (& the US Census bureau), I can't think of any groups on the coast, or anywhere else in California, that use "Hispanic." It would certainly be in keeping with maintaining some sort of superiority/supremacy - like making themselves into bluebloods (or "coconuts" as we might have said in my youth).