A Conversation for The Healing Properties of Chillies

Spelling of chile

Post 1

Researcher 170194

It has been my experience, here in New Mexico, that when talking about the VEGETABLE one spells it "chile" as in red chile and green chile. When talking about the MEAL with the meat and beans one spells it "chili" as in I'll take a bowl of chili. I have never seen the spelling "chilli", but I assume that it is a British spelling seeing as how everything, even if contributed by an American, is converted to British spelling. The chile-chili thing makes it very amusing for New Mexico natives to either watch tourists get confused over the spellings or to go out of state and get a good laugh at the uneducated yokels (at least when it comes to chile) try to write something and create something else. Generally, I've noticed it especially in Texas (where, theoretically, they should at least know better) and everywhere else "chile" spelled "chili" when they really do mean "chile".

Spelling of chile

Post 2


Well, as a Texan turned New Mexican, I'll put in my 2 cents worth. I've always spelled the bean dish 'chilli' with 2 'l's. 'Chilli' may very well contain 'chiles'. My dictionary (Webster's New Students 1964) lists all three (chili, chile, chilli) as variants. I might look into getting a newer dictionary... smiley - online2long

I know that I can walk into the grocery here (Santa Fe) and buy a can of 'Wolf Brand Chilli' and a can of 'Hatch Green Chile,' and they are spelled differently.

Furthermore, the plural of 'Chile' is 'Chiles,' meaning "more than one pepper (vegetable)". The plural of 'chilli' is not something I've seen before, except maybe at a 'chilli cook-off,' where one might say, "there are some good chillies here," but I'm not sure of the spelling, and I'd be more inclined to say, "there are some good pots of chilli here."

As for Texas, when I was growing up there, I never knew about 'chile,' the sauce made from chile peppers, only about 'chilli,' the stew of sorts made from beans and other items. I learned about 'chile' when I got to New Mexico.

For me, the pronounciations are slightly different. I pronounce 'chile' with Spanish vowels and 'chilli' with American ones.

GTB smiley - bigeyes

Spelling of chile

Post 3

Researcher 170194

Don't bother if you were going to get a new Merriam-Webster. I've got the newest edition and they did the same thing. I suppose I have seen "chilli" and just read right over it. But still, to me chile is one of those things you have to fight for in this state and when traveling--like Olympic tickets from Atlanta (that was worth some laughs) or other people back east who still think NM is part of Mexico. Heck, maybe we could get people to submit all the dumb things people have said about New Mexico and get them added to the New Mexico Guide entry.

Chile - from a transplanted traveller's point of view

Post 4


Well, I suppose I ought to weigh in with my opinion, being the third NM resident actively-posting-to-H2G2 recently ... sorry, this is going to be a bit more than $0.02 worth ... maybe less, you be the judge.

I've lived all over the southwest, and have family and friends in nearly every State from Texas to Washington - there's a lot of uniqueness to New Mexico, and even in the regions of New Mexico as we well know. It's no surprise to me, then, that "chile" is a relatively unknown term. I've seen the term "chile" used for the comestible described in this entry much more fequently in Colorado, Arizona, and California (which, although I'm not a sociologist, I would venture to guess is due to larger influx of tourists and emigration between these states). I don't think it's that noticable in Texas for two reasons: (1) Texas is just HUGE, and the much less-populous side of the state is our neighbor; (2) Texans are their own people, and damn proud of it. smiley - winkeye While I would be lying to say that I haven't enjoyed my fair share of jokes on the many Texan tourists I've come across (particularly at the Abq. Balloon Fiesta that I volunteer at every year), and while I've even been brave enough to tease them in their own fine State, all Texans I've met are very good people and perhaps not as deserving of the jokes as we might think. Still, it's hard not to get miffed at the idea that "chile" (our sense of the word) when ordered in Texas, nearly always comes out as tomato-based bean stew that may or may not have any "real" chile in it. It usually has some amount of red chile, as we might call it out here ... but it's nothing compared to good green chile stew - and when I ask for chile on my pizza, I never again want it to come out with that spicy bean-tomato stew, heheh. True story, actually. And don't get me started on my frequent forgetfullness in ordering a "chile cheeseburger" in Amarillo ... heh. Can we say "sloppy joe?"

Anyway, I'm a bit more tolerant than some of my friends from back in Las Cruces, partly 'cos up here in the North in Santa Fe, they don't REALLY know what spicy chile is anyway (sorry, but it's true!). You gotta get some Hatch chile (the REAL stuff they don't often let out of Dona Ana county) to experience what the term "spicy" means, IMHO. You can get "hot" stuff pretty easily, like the oft-mentioned and deadly Habaneros, but if you ask me the flavor just isn't there, and it ceases to be "spicy" and has become "painful." smiley - bigeyes We also get far more tourism up here in SF than anywhere, except maybe down in Albuquerque. (FWIW, I liked living there better than here too, but that's a story for another time)

I'd like to point out one thing: "chile" is a Spanish word - whether it came from another word or not is immaterial. The fact is that around here Spanish is a very commonly spoken language, and hence the word has stuck to refer to the pepper plants (there are indeed several varieties of both green and red, which as I understand are actually just degrees of ripeness). However it came about, the word has come to mean many different things to many different people, but the underlying common thread is the pepper plants themselves - I should stop calling them peppers as this article so accurately has pointed out that they really aren't peppers at all. The fact remains, though, that it's just a somewhat unique way of referring to it here. My homestate pride tells me I must claim that it's the BEST way to eat it (and my stomach and taste heartily agree), but it's still just another term.

Chile is, of course, part of our inalienable local pride, the kind you get after living here for a while no matter what your ethnic roots are. It's that pride that gets wounded when we get chilli when we want chile, or gets completely offended in the gravest manner when we get bell peppers instead of green chile (another true story I'll pass up telling here). New Mexico is arguably the one State of the Union that has held most tightly onto it's old Spanish roots, as a whole, than any other. I tend to think this is part of the source of the confusion surrounding the widely varied usage/definition/spelling over what amounts to just "chile" for us NM folks. There's nothing wrong with putting chile IN other dishes (I myself do it with nearly daily frequency), but there really isn't any dish called just "chile" - unless perhaps you're intending to eat it raw or roasted, just plain, for whatever reason. Sometimes I've heard people refer to sauces and salsa's as "chile" but ... well, I guess it's just one of those peculiarities that takes time to get. We should realize that we're really unique here in NM, and not many others think like this.

Personally, I don't give a rodent's rear end how it's spelled (I think I can say that, heh) as long as I get what I'm asking for. Usually, I'll take the time to check it out with the waiter/waitress when I'm not in NM or Arizona. For what it's worth, I like Texas chilli (or any other state's version of the same dish for that matter). It frequently has some amount of some sort of chile in it, and it's a perfect companion to hot dogs, if you ask me. But it's very frustrating and tiring when I'm visiting my Southern California relatives that keep trying to take me to some new Mexican restaurant (note serious difference from New Mexican restaurant!) that has "real hot green chile, just how ya like it, Jon!" *SIGH* When that happens, I know I'm invariably in for a night of putting on a tolerant face and enjoying very bland chile. At least the tequila there is as good as it is here. smiley - winkeye


Post 5


Lets call the whole thing off.

Chile - from a transplanted traveller's point of view

Post 6


Born in Albuquerque and now living in Durango (not in NM but we get ABQ TV), I've always spelled it chili. Chile is the country in South America where the avocados come from in the off-season. ┬┐Verdad?

Chile - from a transplanted traveller's point of view

Post 7


Yeah, it's the same spelling as the South American country. But that's how it's spelled on nearly all menus and food articles here in NM. Has been since I moved here in 1984. *shrug* You see "chili" on a menu it most likely refers to something quite different than the food you get associated with the word "chile." I think I've been over this ground enough to sound like a total snob, but in reality I'm just trying to help out people who are not experienced in this when ordering food in this area. YMMV of course, but this is a common enough problem I thought I'd point it out for the travellers.

- JD

Chile - from a transplanted traveller's point of view

Post 8


It's kinda funny how two old New Mexicans such as ourselves have different ideas on how to spell chil(i/e). Really an easy slip-up to make too when both spellings are pronounced chill-ee by the English speaking public. I suppose the only real resolution to this debate would be to go to those Mexican restaurants run entirely by folks who speak nary a lick of English and listen to the differences between cheel-ay (chile) and cheel-ee (chili).

And furthermore, a couple or three of those huge margueritas they serve wouldn't be bad either. I'll get back to you once I've done my research and sobered up enough to type something other than vbhbhjbxdljgbblhjft hjzurlbbgl hrlbl.

Chile - from a transplanted traveller's point of view

Post 9


Chilli is in fact a Nahuatl word not spanish, it means chilli.

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