Thursday, October 11, 2007

Peppery Pet Peeve

With apologies to those of you who already know this, I just have to get the following off my chest. Chipotle is not a pepper breed. Chipotle is the name for smoked jalapeno peppers. That's why a chipotle-flavored sauce is smoky as well as hot and spicy. In fact, chipotle sauces are often hotter than those made with fresh green jalapenos, perhaps because the smoking process intensifies the capsaicin (after all, the moisture in the fresh pepper is dried out), and the whole dried pepper is used, including the seeds and "placenta" or membrane around the seeds where the capsaicin is concentrated. Chipotle flavors are commonly found in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine.

I recall seeing a commercial a few years back for a fast-food chain advertising its new chipotle sauce on one of its sandwiches. The humor in the ad came from the inability of people to pronounce the word "chipotle" properly. This is understandable, since to a native English speaker the last two syllables would appear to rhyme with "bottle", or perhaps with the word "total". Neither is correct. Bearing in mind that I am not a linguist (but Spanish is my first language), the closest transliteration I can give you for the proper pronunciation of "chipotle" is the following:

chee-POHT-lay (where the accent is on the middle syllable and it sounds similar to "boat" but a somewhat shorter "o" sound, and likewise with the final syllable is somewhat less than "long a" sound (i.e., close to "leh"), but now I'm picking nits)). Let's try it again: chee-POHT-lay

My pet peeve is when people pronounce "chipotle" as "chee-POULT-ay". To my ear, this is like nails on a chalkboard. A "poult" is a fowl, and has nothing to do with smoked jalapeno peppers. So just repeat after me: chee-POHT-lay, with the "L" sound pronounced after the "T" sound.

There, I feel better now :-)

And if you want to try some terrifically tasty chipotle products, try this Chipotle-Lover's Gift Set from the Carolina Sauce Company.

Zestfully yours,

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