Hot chili peppers are a major ingredient of the Mexican diet , giving spice to Mexican food. This vendor in a market outside Oaxaca was just one of several doing good business. Many hot countries add hot spices to their foods. One would expect not to want spicy hot foods in a hot country, but the reverse is true -- for me at least. Although in English we use the word "hot" for both temperature and spiciness, Hispanic people use two different words -- "caliente" and "picante" respectively. Contrary to common belief, not all Latin American countries use as much "picante" as the Mexicans. A professor friend tells of serving a Mexican dinner to some Colombian friends, who expressed great fear that they'd been poisoned!

1990, 1999 Richard McGuire

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