Reader: Green "chile" is disgusting gruel

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Tamale with red chile at Little Anita's.
When Jenn Wohletz moved from the Midwest to New Mexico, she discovered Mexican food -- make that New Mexican food -- at Little Anita's, and she got hooked on both red and green chile. During a stint in Utah, she almost had to go cold turkey -- but here in Denver, there are plenty of places to feed the chile habit. Including four locations of Little Anita's.

But while green chile fans continue to debate the merits of the Colorado version versus that of New Mexico, at least one reader sees red when thinking of green.

See also:
- Little Anita's Mexican Cafe is firmly entrenched in red and green
- Little Anita's chile no longer vegetarian -- for now?
- Now you can take a seat at Little Anita's

Says Diego Raya:


I have the greatest disdain for it. Green "chile" is disgusting gruel. Chile verde is supposed to be made from tomatillos.

Those are fighting words in Denver, where green chile is considered a liquid asset. What are your favorite spots for green chile, Denver-style? And what do you think of the New Mexico version of verde?



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24 comments
CJW81
CJW81

Oh, so you're not indignant, you're just ignorant. No harm, no foul I suppose. Carry on.

waitingforgodoy
waitingforgodoy

Wow...so the above comment was mine (yes, I'm Diego Raya), and to clarify a couple of things:

A) I'm not a Gringo/Guero/White person. I am Mexican-American, and yes, I am not from around these parts. I am from Southern & Northern California (okay, stop all you transplant bashers), where I was raised on amazingly great Mexican food.

B) I realize my earlier statement should have read "I have a disdain for green chile. I prefer chile verde, which is made from tomatillos." But I still think green chile is disgusting gruel - which was my response to the prompt, "Which is your favorite - red or green chile" as was posted on facebook (where I made the comment). I realize there is a difference, but in many cases where I find green chile being used (to smother a burrito, for example), I would normally see something chile verde used instead. And I have been to Mexican restaurants here in Denver where green chile was listed as chile verde, and I was sorely disappointed. To me, green chile is more "New Mexican" cuisine, not Mexican (yes, there is a difference). 

C)Yes, @Jane, I am from different parts, but that doesn't mean one can't dislike something in one's new home. We all grow up with preferences derived from the region in which we were raised (at least to some extent), but it's fine to not like the style of a particular food in your new home. Think of barbeque styles as an example. Thankfully Denver has other great attributes that make me love it here. I just will pass on the green chile.

D) Chile verde is primarily made up of tomatillos, @TheJeff. Look up a recipe for chile verde and you will see most proportions of 1 1/2 lbs of tomatillos to 2-3 individual chiles, at most. That means that, indeed, chile verde is tomatillo-based. And salsa verde is a totally different thing altogether.

and E) How come the folks at Westword never informed me that they were using my comment for a blog entry?? At the very least I could have weighed in and defended myself!


That is all.

Ntozake2
Ntozake2

New Mexico green chile is not made with tomatillos, it's made with Hatch green chiles. That's the difference - the type of chile. 

2camaeb
2camaeb

SPEND MORE TIME WITH YOUR MOUTHS CLOSED and you'll enjoy the food ALL food more!

2camaeb
2camaeb

only white people complaining once again.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

Gruel?! Really?! Is that what you are gonna say when Jesus comes back and wants a relleno?

smm13
smm13

I'm not gonna get into a debate or anything but in my opinion, Red Chile is King.  I grew up on AZ Mexican Food, far superior to CO.

smm13
smm13

I'm not gonna get into a debate or anything but in my opinion, Red Chile is King.  I grew up on AZ Mexican Food, far superior to CO.

smm13
smm13

I'm not gonna get into a debate or anything but in my opinion, Red Chile is King.  I grew up on AZ Mexican Food, far superior to CO.

twinville2
twinville2

Chile Verde and Green Chile are completely different foods. I bet this person read one of JoAnn Mapson's books, where she writes about Chile Verde over and over when referring to Green Chile, just so she sounds 'fancier' and more elite. She obviously didn't do her homework. This is Chile Verde! Chile Verde Sauce


3 1/2 lbs tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 1/2 lb green peppers, seeded like poblanos or jalapenos
3/4 lb yellow onion, quartered
1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
2 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed
salt and pepper

rdneil55
rdneil55

there will lalways be a difference in chili preparation New Mexico does not use a tomato to process it's chili so it is the real thing flavor of the chili is the content only and everything else is seasoning there is not any comparison to New Mexico chili...and yes other states do have their own variations to preparation of the chili but New Mexico is in it's own class :)

MariaM
MariaM

In New Mexico, chile is chile is chile, red, green, prepared, fresh off the plant, roasted, dried, frozen, etc. Also, it's not pluralized, there is no such thing as green 'chiles'. And here chile verde is made with green chile - Hatch or not - the chile verde Mr. Raya speaks of is not native to this area...it's probably Mexican derived. There are green chile varieties from all over the state. Hatch is widely known, larger and easier to roast and peel, but the chile that comes from northern NM (known as 'native' in this part of the state) has much better flavor, albeit a pain to work with. Of course if you're not from NM (or lived here at least) you'll have not a clue what I'm talking about. Just don't try and be an authoritarian on this issue - I don't care how much culinary schooling and/or kitchen experience you have. I'm an 18th-generation Spanish decent whose family has lived here the the region was colonized in the 1600s...I know my chile. I bet that's another thing you didn't know...we're Spanish, not Mexican.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve topcommenter

Please note that the prepared dish is spelled "chili" and the vegetable is spelled "chile".  There are also chile and chili powders.   According to Drew Kime, food author and editor:

"...The hot peppers used in spicy dishes are chile peppers; the meaty (well, usually meaty, though you can do a vegetarian version) prepared food you eat with nachos is chili. Also, when you dry and grind a single pepper, that is chile powder. When you dry and grind one or more peppers, plus add garlic, cumin, salt and other seasonings to use in making chili, that is chili powder."

ABQ_Joe
ABQ_Joe

I agree with Jeff, sounds like confusion. Green chile is god's own food though.

Jane
Jane

If you're gonna hate on foods that are different because they are in different regions, you better stay where you grew up :)

I live in Kentucky, but lived in NM for several years.  Just earlier this week I made one of my favorite - and super easy - green chile recipes!  I really enjoy the stuff, in part because it reminds me of my old haunts.

TheJeff
TheJeff

Sounds like Mr. Raya is confusing chile verde with salsa verde.  Green chile/chile verde frequently includes tomatillos (mine certainly does!) but is mostly, as the name implies, chiles.  Salsa verde is mostly tomatillos.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@2camaeb Just out of curiosity, how can you tell that someone is white on an internet message board? 

bondadprevalece
bondadprevalece

@2camaeb Didn't you know that white people are the arbiters of the authenticity of "ethnic" food?

slydevil01
slydevil01

MariaM is correct... no variety of NM Chile is EVER referred to as Chili.... sorry bud.

slydevil01
slydevil01

It's NM Green or Red Chile... if you refer to it any other way you're talking about something other than a NM variety or like Texas Chili or something, Sorry Mr. Kime, you're wrong.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@foodcrazy Not to say whether you're right or wrong, because it often comes down to style choices, but these days, "pepper" is generally ditched because it's botanically incorrect. We'll probably always be stuck with "bell pepper," but other chiles are just referred to by their names: jalapeno, habañero, guajillo, etc. (ancho or ancho chile, for example, but not ancho pepper or ancho chile pepper). 

Green chile (the stew or sauce) in the American Southwest is indeed green chile, not green chili, although you'll see it both ways on menus across town (and sometimes even both ways at the same restaurant). Chili refers specifically to red chili  - the kind with beef and beans, generally speaking. You'll never see "chili" in reference to any chile-based sauce emanating from any Spanish-speaking country.

Some notable food writers, like Michael Ruhlman, advocate the use of "chilli" to refer to the actual pod. To quote Ruhlman: "“I agree with Alan Davidson and others that we should refer to pungent capsicums with the original and unambiguous Nahuatl name chilli.” I disagree, because Nahuatl is filtered through Spanish, which has a distinct pronunciation for "ll".

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve topcommenter

@ATRPhotography @foodcrazy  

Hey, please don't bitch about this to me.  Go back and read my post, then go to Drew Kime's blog and bitch to him about it.  Meanwhile, I'm sticking to my post.  I don't give a rat's tit what the Land of Enchantment or Texas thinks.


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