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Dave's Fiery Front Page

Exploring the World of Spice and Smoke

Chimayó Chiles Not a Myth

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Earlier in this blog I wrote about the "legendary Hatch chiles" being a total myth, but this time I'm writing about the northern New Mexico Chimayó chiles that are an endangered food crop.  They are a land race of chiles, meaning that they have been grown in the same area for hundreds of years and thus have become, with the hand of man, a cultivated variety.  An institute has been formed to save the Chimayó chiles and they are making a slight come back.  To read our article on northern New Mexico land races of chiles, go here.  To read about the Native Hispanic Institute, go here.


Historic Photo of Abelino & Faustino Martinez

You'd think, after three decades of writing about chiles, that I would know every chile condiment in the world.  Not so.  Nick Vroman writes from Tokyo about koregusu, hot Korean chile peppers soaked in awamori (the favorite firewater from Okinawa) used to enhance delectable island favorites.  Nick writes:  "The label on this one says shima togarashi, or 'island pepper,' another way to refer to it.  I've seen many a homemade infusion, though, at bars and restaurants. Its main use is with Okinawan soba (noodles in a pork-based broth). The alcohol cuts through the heavy porky-ness and the spice gives depth and heat to the experience. It's a wonderful condiment."  Nick is working on an article about koregusu for the SuperSite.

Christmas in Yucatán

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: tasty travel , new content , holidays

Nancy Gerlach, who retired and moved to Mexico last year, continues her story about adapting to life in Mexico (has she un-retired? We can always hope):  "It hardly seems possible that another holiday season is upon us, but it is. I've got to admit it's hard to get into the spirit without cold temperatures and some snow, but here in Mexico the weather is like Christmas in Southern California...."  Story continues here.  Image is the malecón and the very long pier for cruise ships at Progreso, close to Chelem where Nancy and Jeff live.

The Myth of Hatch Chiles

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

There is no such thing as a Hatch chile, despite all the hype about them.  It is not a chile variety, as many people think.  Yes, there are chiles grown in Hatch, usually the varieties 'Barker' and 'NuMex 6-4'.  These grown-in-Hatch varieties are no better than those grown in the Mesilla Valley or in Deming.  There are simply not enough chiles grown in Hatch to supply all of the sellers claiming to provide "Hatch chile."  A few years ago at the New Mexico Chile Conference, I spoke to two women who have a chile farm in eastern Arizona who confessed to me that they shipped their chiles to Hatch, where roadside vendors labeled them "Hatch chiles."  So, how did this mythology come about?  Well, first, there is a Hatch brand of canned chiles, packed by Border Foods in Deming.  This brand has been on the market for years, but probably most of these chiles are grown in Mexico, not Hatch.  Then there is what Jimmy Buffet calls the "coconut telegraph," but here it's the Capsicum Telegraph--namely word of mouth and rumor from consumers who mistakenly spread the hype.  Sorry to burst everyone's Hatch bubble, but I always tell it like it is.  Photo by Paul Ross, shot in Hatch.

The Feast of St. Anthony

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: tasty travel , holidays , history

On January 17, Italian Catholics celebrated the Feast of St. Anthony by, well, feasting.  My friend Marco Budinis traveled to Chiavari for its feast.  He writes: "In Italy Saint Anthony the Abbot is remembered for being the protector of domesticated animals.  In several towns in Italy (as it is in Chiavari in January) several celebrations are held run and there are also country fairs, mostly with booths with food stuff, but also plants such as lemon trees, orange trees and so on.  We feasted on porchetta (above) and spicy olives, cheese, and salami."  Porchetta, of course, is boned whole small pigs stuffed with garlic, rosemary, and fennel.  Mary Jane, Harald & Renate, and I tasted this at the big CIBUS food show in Parma last May, and I think porchetta is one of the best foods I've ever tasted.  St. Anthony is also the patron saint of ergotism, a poisoning caused by the ingestion of alkaloids produced by the Claviceps purpurea fungus that infects rye and other cereals that are used to make bread.  The condition is called "St. Anthony's Fire" and the symptoms are hallucinations, painful seizures, and spasms.  Ergot is a precursor to LSD and some experts believe it caused the Salem witch trials because people afflicted with ergotism from infected bread acted so strangely they were thought to be witches.

Jolokias in Florida

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tony Kamenoff in Orange City, Florida, writes:  "These are pics from December.  I had about60 peppers on my two plants from 3 to 3.5 inches long. I keep them in pots to move in and out according to the weather.  The plants came up in March and and first one did not have pods until August and finally ripened in October.  They are hot and have fruity taste, which makes them great for salsa and sauce boiled down in vinegar. "

My friend Horrible Haggis will soon be celebrating the 10th anniversary of his festival in Jindivick, Victoria that happens right before the Fiery Foods & BBQ Show.  Here's his poster for the event.  Note the Valentine's Day promotion, a Fiery Kissing Competition!  Now, that's hot!

Bernie in Hell

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: scams , hot sauce , fiery foods

 A New York City artist has come up with a great way to insult the disgraced Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff: a bottle of hot habanero sauce called "Bernie in Hell." Alex Gardega said he wanted to make a statement about Madoff, who is accused of taking $50 billion from investors in his fund. Bottles of the sauce, available for sale at $10 each on Gardega's website, bear a photograph of the financier with horns on his head and dollar signs for eyes.  "This sauce is habanero-based and very good and hellishly hot!" Gardega wrote on his blog. He also wrote that the bottles had been produced as a limited-edition artwork rather than as a condiment.  More text on the bottle reads, "You can take the money but can you take...the heat?!!!"  Visit Gardega's blog here.

Hot Sauce History

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Much of what we know about now-extinct brands of hot sauces comes from bottle collectors. There is not a great body of material on the subject of collectible hot sauce bottles, but we are indebted to Betty Zumwalt, author of Ketchup, Pickles, Sauces: 19th Century Food in Glass, who dutifully catalogued obscure hot sauce bottles found by collectors. Many bottles in the hands of collectors were uncovered from archaeological digs and shipwrecks.... Story continues here.


Killer Bee Mustard

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

 You know you're going to like a guy when, asked how he got started in the honey business, he answers, "I started keeping bees because I drink."

Reed Booth, otherwise known as the "Killer Bee Guy," is a home-brewer and mead (honey wine) maker. More than fifteen years ago, after settling in Arizona, Booth was joking with his friend that he ought to have some bees on hand for the mead-and shortly thereafter, the friend, who just happened to be a bee inspector, called up to say that she had a bag of the bugs for him. And so, to Booth's surprise, it began.  Story continues here.

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