November 3rd, 2016

words are sexy

Thursday word: chipotle

chipotle (chi-POHT-lay, chee-PAWT-le) or chilpotle - n., ripened and smoke-dried jalapeño pepper.


In my journal this week, I've been running a theme of words derived from Nahuatl, the Central American language of the Aztecs and related peoples. The first pronunciation is the fully anglicized one, the second is if you're saying it as in Spanish, through from which we more immediately got it. The original Nahuatl word is chilpoctli, or in modern spelling xipotli, from chīlli , pepper + pōctli, smoke -- so, smoked-pepper. Nicely literal, for once.

As for the pepper itself, most jalapeños are picked green, but if allowed to ripen, they turn red. When they are mostly dried up on the bush, after which they are picked and smoked for several days. They have a medium heat, like the green jalapeños, and they are used in Mexican and Mexican-inspired cooking, mostly. Also, quite tasty. Most of the chipotles seen in the United States are grown in Chihuahua, but further south there's a greater variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors.

As for jalapeño, that's an attributive -- in Spanish, it means of or pertaining to the central Mexican city of Jalapa or Xalapa, itself a Nahuatl name, Xalapan, menaing sand-by-the-water, from xalli, sand + atl, water + -pan, place.

While we talked, he mixed up a dish of beans, maize, and chipotles.

---L.