Countries in which chile is significant in the cuisine
April 14, 2013 2:21 PM   Subscribe

Countries in which chile is significant in the cuisine?

I am gathering a list of countries (or states/provinces) in which chile/ahi is significant in the cuisine. More importantly, I'm looking for a symbol representative of that place, other than its flag (and ideally there are public domains images for these). For example, New Mexico-USA => Zia symbol. (Yes the Zia symbol is on the state flag, but it stands alone as an image).

What do you know?
posted by falsedmitri to Society & Culture (15 answers total)
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posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:47 PM on April 14, 2013

Lots of chilies are used in Indian food. As for a symbol, maybe a lotus blossom or an Om?
posted by jquinby at 2:52 PM on April 14, 2013

Thailand is chili central, and a Garuda would serve well as a national symbol:

There's always Mexico as well - you could use an Aztec pyramid, or perhaps even a sombrero.

Szechuan province, China is also known for its chili-laden cuisine, so well known that the chili itself might be the best known symbol.

Texas' Lone Star might qualify, or the outline of the state itself.

Would chili pepper sauce count? the US State of Louisiana would be a good candidate, as Tabasco, the most famous pepper sauce in the world is made there, and in South Louisiana people put it on everything short of their pancakes. Any number of symbols would suffice, but a purple and gold trefoil would be exceptionally well recognized.
posted by deadmessenger at 3:32 PM on April 14, 2013

Do you mean aji chili? It is widely used in many Central and South American cuisines, notably in Peru and Bolivia.
posted by trip and a half at 3:34 PM on April 14, 2013

Response by poster: Numerous good suggestions so far, but the Wiphala ... never seen that before. Awesome.
posted by falsedmitri at 4:53 PM on April 14, 2013

You mention New Mexico, so you probably already know about New Mexican obsession with green and red chile. The ristra could be a unique symbol of it.
posted by juliplease at 5:05 PM on April 14, 2013

Bhutan is all about chilies. People eat hot chili peppers both as a vegetable and a seasoning. For example: the "national dish" ema datsi. The Bhutanese flag features an image of a Druk or thunder dragon which could be a good option.

Many Caribbean countries use chilis, including the famous Scotch Bonnet variety. Though I'm not coming up with a good symbol other than the flags.
posted by dahliachewswell at 5:11 PM on April 14, 2013

Response by poster: lone start, om symbol, garuda ... very good.
@deadmessenger: I would like a purple & gold trefoil, but can't find a good image. Can you point one out?
posted by falsedmitri at 5:46 PM on April 14, 2013

While Japanese food isn't all that spicy (the main flavors are miso, soy sauce, salt, sugar, and vinegar), chili powder from the Japanese togarashi chili (either vaguely like cayenne, or the same thing, I'm not sure) is a common site on dinner tables. Usually, you'll have a bottle of soy sauce, a shaker of salt, and a shaker of either ichimi (which is just the chili powder), or shichimi (which is a blend of chili powder with a variety of other flavors, such as sesame and citrus).

It's awesome on pretty much anything, and is a standard seasoning for udon, soba, most donburi (X served on a bowl of white rice, like gyudon or oyakodon), yakitori, and even tempura (sometimes). It's not a central pillar of the cuisine, but it's the quintessential 'hot sauce' in Japan.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:51 PM on April 14, 2013

Here you go.
posted by deadmessenger at 8:39 PM on April 14, 2013

Response by poster: Oh, I was looking for the wrong thing. I call what you've linked to a Fleur de lis. Thanks.
posted by falsedmitri at 9:17 PM on April 14, 2013

South Korean food uses a lot of gochujang, or red chili paste. I can't think of a national symbol involving the red chili pepper, but in the fall you see blankets covered with chilies being dried out in the sun.

What's funny is that the chili was imported from South America by Portuguese traders, but many Koreans think it's native to the country.
posted by bardic at 2:34 AM on April 15, 2013

Sri Lankan cuisine uses a fair bit of chilli too. It is typically fierier than Indian food I've eaten.

Sri Lankans are also at pains to point out to you that their cuisine is not Indian cuisine is less oily.

Jamaican cuisine also makes use of scotch bonnet peppers, notably in jerk spice and milder curries.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:18 AM on April 15, 2013

Paprika in Hungary? You see chains of red peppers in every folksy setting.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:57 AM on April 15, 2013

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