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Chilies 101

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    Posted: 15 April 2010 at 16:11
click here for an excellent page on identifying chilies!

Dried Chile Peppers



Moderately hot


Very hot

Extremely hot


dried chiles = dried chilies = dried peppers


ají panca chile = aji panca chile  Notes:  This reddish-brown chile is fruity and mild.  
ancho chile pepper = (incorrectly) pasilla chile   Pronunciation:  AHN-choh   Notes:  These are dried poblano peppers, and very commonly used in Mexican cuisine.  They're brownish-black and wrinkled.   Substitutes:   mulato (darker with earthier, more pungent flavor) OR pasilla chile  OR California chile OR dried New Mexico chile peppers

arbol chile  See chile de arbol.

bola chile  See cascabel pepper.

California chile  Notes:  These are dried Anaheim chiles, very mild.  Substitutes:  dried New Mexico chile peppers (a bit hotter)

cascabel pepper = rattle chile = bola chile = chile bola   These are nicknamed rattle chiles because the seeds rattle when you shake them.  They're a rich brown color and moderately hot.   Substitutes:   guajillo chile OR pequin pepper (much hotter) OR tepin pepper (much hotter) OR cayenne pepper (hotter)  

Catarina chile = Catarina pepper   Notes:   This Mexican chile is used to make tamales, marinades, stews and soups. 

cayenne pepper = Ginnie pepper  Notes:  These are very hot, bright red chiles.  Recipes that call for cayenne pepper may be referring to a ground powder that goes by the same name, or to the fresh version of the pepper. Substitutes:   chile de Arbol OR guajillo


Chilhuacle negro chile  Notes:   This excellent Mexican chile is loaded with flavor but hard to find.  It's used to make mole negro and bean dishes.


Chilcostle chile  This Mexican chile is used in soups, stews, tamales, and mole sauces.

chile bola  See cascabel pepper.


chile de arbol = arbol chile = red chile   Pronunciation:  ARE-bowl  Notes:  Unlike many chiles, these remain bright red even after drying.  They're fairly hot.  Don't confuse the dried version with the fresh, which goes by the same name.  Substitutes:  cayenne pepper OR pequin chiles

chile negro  See pasilla chile.

chiles de ristra  See New Mexico red chile.

chile seco  See chipotle pepper

chiltecpin  See tepin

chiltepin  See tepin.  

chiltpin  See tepin.  


chipotle pepper (chile) = smoked jalapeno pepper = chile seco   Pronunciation:  chuh-POT-lay Notes:  These lend a wonderful smoky flavor to sauces.  They're usually canned in adobo sauce, but you can also buy the dried peppers in cellophane bags.  Substitutes:  (for chipotles in adobo sauce) 1 tablespoon catsup + 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke + 1 jalapeno pepper OR morita (smaller) OR mora OR ancho (larger and milder)

Costeño Amarillo chile  This Mexican chile is used to make soups, stews, and mole sauces.



Ginnie pepper  See cayenne pepper.


guajillo chile   Pronunciation:  gwah-HEE-yoh  Notes:  These moderately hot chiles are smooth, shiny, and reddish-brown.  They have a tough skin, so they need to be soaked longer than other chiles.   Substitutes:  cascabels (rounder and shorter) OR New Mexico chiles OR California chiles (milder)

habanero (habañero) chile (or pepper)   Pronunciation: hah-bah-NYAIR-oh    Notes:  Don't confuse dried habaneros with the fresh version, which goes by the same name.  These extremely hot chiles are wrinkled and orange.  Substitutes:   chile de Arbol

Japanese dried chile

mirasol chile (dried)  Substitutes:  chile de Arbol

mora chile  Notes:  This is a smoked and dried red jalapeno pepper.  Substitutes:   chipotle chile OR morita chile (smaller)


morita pepper  Notes:  Like the larger mora chile, this is a smoked and dried red jalapeno.  Substitutes:   chipotle (larger) OR mora chile (larger)

mulato chile = mulatto chile  Pronunciation:   moo-LAH-toe  Notes:  This very popular chile looks like the ancho, but it's darker and sweeter.  It's fairly mild and has an earthy flavor.  Substitutes:   ancho chile (sweeter)

New Mexico red chile = New Mexican chile = chiles de ristra   Notes:  These chiles have an earthy flavor and resemble the California chile, only they're hotter and more flavorful.   Substitutes:  California chile OR ancho chile

Onza roja chile  This is used in sauces and soups.

pasilla chile = chile negro = pasilla negro   Pronunciation:   puh-SEE-yuh  Notes:  This is the dried version of the chilaca chile.  It's long, black, and wrinkled, and a standard ingredient in mole sauces.  Ancho chiles are sometimes mislabeled as pasillas.   Substitutes:  ancho chile (sweeter) OR mulato chile (stronger, earthier flavor)

pequin pepper = piquin pepper  Pronunciation:  pay-KEEN  Notes:  These small red peppers are fairly hot.   Substitutes: chile de Arbol OR tepin OR cayenne OR cascabel

piri piri pepper  Substitutes:  malagueta peppers

piquin pepper  See pequin pepper.


puya chile = pulla chile   Pronunciation:  POO-yuh Notes:  This is similar to the guajillo chile, only smaller and more potent.  It has a fruity flavor that's good in salsas and stews.

rattle chile  See cascabel pepper.

red chile    See chile de arbol.

smoked jalapeno peppers   See cayenne pepper.


tepin (tepín) = chiltpin (chiltpín) = chiltepin (chiltepín) = chiltecpin (chiltecpín)  Notes:  These look a bit like large dried cranberries.  They're also sold fresh. Substitutes:  pequin OR cascabel OR cayenne


General Notes:

  • Smaller peppers are usually hotter than larger peppers.

  • Peppers often become hotter as they ripen, and hotter still when they're dried.  Dried peppers tend to have a  richer, more concentrated flavor.

  • To tone down the heat of a pepper, cut it open and remove the seeds and the white ribs.

  • When working with peppers, wear rubber gloves or, in a pinch, coat your hands with vegetable oil.  Wash your hands carefully afterwards.

  • Chiles don't freeze well.

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click here for more information ~
All About Chili Peppers


Wash your hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water when you are through handling peppers.

Rub your hands with cooking oil before handling hot peppers if you feel it is impossible to work with rubber gloves. The oil protects the skin.

Soak your hands in milk to soothe them if you feel the tingling irritation that is a sign of pepper burn.

Flush eyes immediately with cold water if a hot pepper comes in contact with the eyes or mucous membranes.

From the outside, there is no sure-fire way to tell how hot a chili is, but a few guidelines will make the task easier.

Here is a flavor guide to chilis:

Remember that the smallest, thin-fleshed or narrowest peppers are the hottest. That's because they are more primitive, and the closer they are to the original wild peppers, the hotter they are. The same is true for small, pea-shaped or roundish peppers. They are very hot.

The larger, wider and thicker the chili, the more ''advanced'' and the milder it is. To cultivate cooler varieties with more substance and weight, people have been developing larger chilis for centuries.

Following this logic, the long, pencil-thin japones chilis (No. 13) will be much hotter than the thick, heavy-fleshed poblano chilis (No. 1).

The elongated, but thick California chilis (No. 14) are somewhere in between. But watch out; chili plants cross-pollinate in the blink of an eye, leading to hundreds of local varieties and new chili types.

The following is a list of some well-known chilis.

1. Poblano: Mild to mildly hot. Its thick, sturdy flesh is very flavorful, similar to a bell pepper. Frequently stuffed with cheese for chilis rellenos. Also good in fresh salsas, cooked sauces and Mexican foods.

2. California (canned): Usually mild. The vein, skin and peel already are removed. Use in salsas, enchiladas and baked dishes.

3. Serrano: Very hot. Sometimes sold pickled and fresh. Good in moderation in salsas, Caribbean and African stews and Oriental dishes.

4. Jalapeno: Very hot. Often sold pickled or fresh. Jalapenos are frequently used to add hotness but little flavor to nachos, salsas, conch salads and ceviche. (See also chipotle.)

5. New Mexico Red (dried): Variable, mild to hot. This is the shiny, brick red ristra, or strung chili of the Southwest. It has a deep, full flavor and rich aroma. Use to make cooked sauces, enchiladas, beans, or chili con carne.

6. Guajillo: Hot. Dried red Mexican chili used to make cooked red sauces for meat or chicken. Often sold ground or crushed.

7. Chipotle (canned): Very hot. Smoked, dried jalapeno peppers usually imported from Mexico. They have an exotic, smoky taste and are traditional in the Mexican meat marinating sauce called adobo. For less heat in stews or sauces, mix with other dried chiles, such as ancho, pasilla negro, New Mexican red or California.

8. Chipotle (dried): Very hot. Use the same way as canned, but soak in water to soften skin.

9. Pasilla Negro: Medium to hot. Dried Mexican chile. One traditional ingredient in mole, the famous Mexican sauce made of seeds, spices, chili and unsweetened chocolate. Use also in other Mexican cooked sauces.

10. California (dried): Mild. Usually sold ground and made into chili powders and chili mixes. Use in sauces, stews, beans and chili con carne.

11. Ancho (dried): Mild to medium. The traditional Mexican chile for mole. Ancho is very flavorful because it's the dried poblano chili. Use in red sauces, salsas, stews and chili con carne.

12. Mulato (dried): Mild to medium. A flavorful Mexican chili sometimes confused with ancho. It's darker and slightly larger, but can be used in place of ancho, New Mexican red or California chilis.

13. Japones (dried): Very hot. Sometimes called Hontaka, this chili is widely used in Oriental, Latin American and Caribbean cooking.

14. California (fresh): Mild. Can be very flavorful when roasted and peeled. Use in salsas, enchiladas, chilis rellenos and green chili stew.

15. Guero: Very hot. Shiny Mexican chilis sometimes confused with Hungarian Wax peppers or yellow jalapenos. Use in Latin American, Oriental, Caribbean and African cooking.


In 1912 pharmacologist Wilbur Scoville devised a system to determine the degree of heat in chili peppers. That system measures pepper heat in Scoville units.

The more Scoville units, the hotter the pepper. The hotter the pepper, the greater the body's physiological response. Experts say chilies offer a mother lode of medicinal benefits.

Here's a sampler of chilies, from searing to mild.

Scoville Units Chili Rating (approx.) Varieties

10 100,000 - 300,000 Habanero, Bahamian
9 50,000 - 100,000 Santaka, Chiltepin, Thai
8 30,000 - 50,000 Aji, Rocoto, Piquin, Cayenne, Tabasco
7 15,000 - 30,000 de Arbol
6 5,000 - 15,000 Yellow wax, Serrano
5 2,500 - 5,000 Jalapeno, Mirasol
4 1,500 - 2,500 Sandia, Cascabel
3 1,000 - 1,500 Ancho, Pasilla, Espanola
2 500 - 1,000 NuMex, Big Jim
1 100 - 500 Mexi-Bell, Cherry
0 0 Mild bells, Pimento, Sweet banana
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 April 2010 at 02:36
Ron...that was one terrific post. Very informative and visually stunning..that's going to help a lot of people around here. Thanks.
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Since we all have or know of stories involving "mishaps" with chilies, I decided to offer this advice from Time/Life's Foods of the World Series:

Quote Hot chilies are cousins to the familiar green bell peppers, but they may require special handling. Their volatile oils may make your skin tingle and your eyes burn. Wear rubber gloves if you can and be careful not to touch your face or eyes while working with the chilies.

To prepare the chilies, rinse them clean under cold running water and cut or break the stem off if you wish the leave the [ribs and] seeds (which are the hottest parts) intact in the pods. If the chili is to be seeded, pull out the stem and the seeds attached to it; then break or cut the pod in half and brush out the remaining seeds with your fingers. In most cases, the ribs inside are thin, but if they seem thick and fleshy you may cut them out with a small, sharp knife. Follow the instructions included in the recipes for slicing or chopping chilies. [Note: If you wish to remove even more of the "heat," cut out the ribs, scrape the inside of the pod out with a spoon and rinse thoroughly under cold, running water.]

After handling hot chilies, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 June 2012 at 10:58
Here is some really good information from Wikipedia, showing many, many different varieties of chiles:
Quote There are five major species of Capsicum cultivars, and appear in many varieties. The hotness of the fruit is indicated in the Scoville scale, which ranges from no heat at zero to pure capsaicin at 16,000,000.

Capsicum annuum

Capsicum annuum is a popular species native to South America. It is cultivated worldwide. Despite being a single species, the capsicum annum has many forms, with a variety of names, even in the same language. In American English it is commonly known as the chili pepper, although not all varieties would be recognized by most speakers under this name. In British English, the sweet varieties are called peppers[1] and the hot varieties chillies,[2] whereas in Australian English the name capsicum is commonly used for bell peppers exclusively and chilli is often used to encompass the hotter varieties. Its forms are varied, from large to small, sweet to sour, very hot to bland.

The plant is a perennial subshrub, with a densely branched stem. The plant reaches 0.5–1.5 m (20–60 in). Single white flowers bear the fruit which is green when unripe, changing principally to red, although some varieties may ripen to brown or purple. While the species can tolerate temperate climates (where they are grown as an annual), they are especially productive in warm and dry climates.

Image Name Country Hotness Length Description
Afghan Short Pepper Afghanistan &10000000000030000000000 5,000 - 30,000 SR 5-8 cm (2-3 in) Grown in Afghanistan.
Aleppopepper.jpg Aleppo Syria and Turkey &10000000000015000000000 15,000 SR Grown in Syria and Turkey and used, in coarsely ground, dried form, as a spice that is also called Aleppo pepper.
Alma Paprika Hungary &10000000000010000000000 10,000 SR A Hungarian pepper that is dried and ground to make spicy paprika.
Californiachilis.jpg Anaheim USA &10000000000002500000000 500 - 2,500 SR 15 cm (6 in) Smooth, narrow fruit first cultivated in northern Mexico and New Mexico, and later brought to California, from where it has received the most notoriety. Often used for chile relleno. When mature, takes on a red color and is referred to as a colorado.
Banana peppers.jpg Banana &10000000000000500000000 0 - 500 SR 15 cm (6 in) Often pickled and used as an ingredient in sandwiches; its flavor is not very hot. Its shape and color resembles a banana.
RedBellPepper.jpg Bell &10000000000000000000000 0 SR 15 cm (6 in) Cultivar group of large rectangular fruit without noticeable heat. The ripe fruit can be red, yellow, green, orange, white, purple, blue, or brown depending on the specific cultivar.
Cascabelchilipeppersdried.jpg Cascabel Mexico &10000000000003000000000 3,000 SR 2.5 cm (1 in) Small, round fruit that is usually dried and has a distinct nutty flavor. The name is Spanish for "rattle" or "jingle bell," and derives from the rattling noise made by the seeds inside the dried pod.
Large Cayenne.jpg Cayenne French Guiana &10000000000050000000000 30,000 - 50,000 SR 12.5 cm (5 in) Long, thin fruit that was transported by the Portuguese to China and India, where it is used widely. Often dried and ground into powder.
Cherrypeppers.jpg Cherry &10000000000003500000000 3,500 SR 2.5 cm (1 in) Named for the fruit it resembles, this cultivar's fruit is small, red, and round. It is typically used fresh, or pickled and jarred, and is often used to stuff green olives. It is also called pimento.
Pasillachiles.jpg Chilaca &10000000000002000000000 1,000 - 2,000 SR 15 cm (6 in) Popular in Mexican cuisine. Almost always encountered dried; in this state, it is referred to as a pasilla. The pasilla has a dark brown color and a smoky flavor.
Chiltepin.150x.jpg Chiltepin &10000000000100000000000 50,000 - 100,000 SR 0.5 cm (0.2 in) Small, hot fruit that is often eaten by birds. The plant is thought to be the oldest member of the Capsicum genus. Evidence indicates that this has been consumed by humans as far back as 7,500 B.C. 
Chinese 5-color 3.5 cm (1.5 in) Starts out purple, then changes to white, yellow, orange and red. Similar to Bolivian Rainbow pepper and NuMex Twilight pepper. It is also called Chinese Multi-Color Pepper.
Cubanelle Peppers.jpg Cubanelle &10000000000001000000000 1 - 1,000 SR 12.7 cm (5 in) Medium thickness, tapered fruit that is green when unripe but turns red when mature. Often fried in Italian cooking.
Chilesdearbol.jpg De árbol Mexico &10000000000030000000000 15,000 - 30,000 SR 8 cm (3 in) Slender fruited cultivar grown primarily in Mexico. Name is Spanish for "from a tree."
Illustration Capsicum annuum0.jpg Fresno &10000000000010000000000 2,500-10,000 SR 9 cm (3.5 in) Same species as the Jalapeño but is more ripe and has a higher vitamin content. Frequently used in ceviche and is one of the most frequently used chilies in salsa.
Guajillos.jpg Guajillo Mexico &10000000000005000000000 2,500 - 5,000 SR Most often used in dried form to make a red sauce used for tamales.
Andhra Chillies.jpg Guntur Sannam &10000000000040000000000 35,000 - 40,000 SR It is well known as a commercial crop used as a condiment, culinary supplement or as a vegetable.
Hungarianwaxpeppers.jpg Hungarian wax &10000000000008000000000 2,500 - 8,000 SR Wide, semi-hot variety used in Hungarian cuisine. Frequently pickled. Also commonly dried, ground and presented as "Paprika."
Italian sweet peppers.jpg Italian sweet pepper Italy Used in Spanish cuisine.
Jalapenyo.jpg Jalapeño Mexico &10000000000008000000000 2,500 - 8,000 SR 9 cm (3.5 in) Very popular, especially in the United States. Often pickled or canned. A smoke-dried ripe jalapeño is referred to as a chipotle.
Shishito Japan
Mirasol Mexico
Macho Mexico
Piment fort.jpg Medusa It is a sweet, ornamental chili pepper which grows upright and has brightly coloured fruit.
Newmexicochiles.jpg New Mexico USA &10000000000005000000000 4,500 - 5,000 SR Further more specific cultivars of Anaheim peppers, grown in the U.S. state of New Mexico. Typically, with a much higher heat than those grown in California, or elsewhere.
Mature peter red chili next to a dried pod.PNG Peter pepper USA and Mexico &10000000000030000000000 5,000 - 30,000 SR 8-10 cm (3-4 in) Rare, heirloom-type hot pepper
Pepperoncini.jpg Pepperoncini Italy &10000000000000500000000 100 - 500 SR 8 cm (3 in) Sweet-tasting and mild, is used extensively in Italian and Greek cuisine. Very frequently pickled.
Piquinbush.jpg Pequin pepper USA and Mexico &10000000000140000000000 100,000 - 140,000 SR Also spelled piquín.
Poblano Pepper.jpg Poblano Mexico &10000000000002000000000 1,000 - 2,000 SR 13 cm (5 in) Large, heart-shaped, dark green fruit that is extremely popular in Mexico. Often used to make chile relleno. When dried, referred to as an ancho or mulato.
Puya aka Pulla &10000000000005000000000 5,000 SR[3] Capsicum annuum L.,[4] hot, medium-size, green to red, and tapered[5]
Santa Fe Grande The Santa Fe Grande is a very prolific variety used in the Southwestern United States. The conical, blunt fruits ripen from greenish-yellow, to orange-yellow to red. The peppers grow upright on 24" plants. Santa Fe Grande's have a slightly sweet taste and are fairly mild in pungency.
Serranochilis.jpg Serrano Mexico &10000000000023000000000 10,000 - 23,000 SR 5 cm (2 in) Thin, tapered fruit that is green when unripe but turns red when mature. Due to its thin skin, it does not need to be peeled before use.
Super Chili[citation needed] &10000000000050000000000 40,000 - 50,000 SR Long, thin, and red
Tien Tsin China &10000000000075000000000 50,000-75,000 SR Grown and used in China.

Capsicum baccatum

These have a distinctive, fruity flavor, and are commonly ground into colorful powders for use in cooking, each identified by its color.

Name Hotness Length Description
Ají peruano.jpg
Ají amarillo 30,000 - 50,000 SR 7.5 cm (3 in) An aromatic, orange coloured fruit that is most popular in Peru. Often consumed raw in salsas and salads.
Pimiento campanilla.jpg Bishop's Crown A mild, oddly shaped, baccatum fruit that ripens to an orange or red. Also known as Monk's Cap among others
Peppadew.jpg Piquanté 1,000 - 2,000 SR 2 cm (1 in) Mild, Sweet and Tangy flavour, usable in many dishes.
Brazilian Starfish A hot, red baccatum fruit known for its unusual star shape
Wild Baccatum A small, round, wild hot pepper, C. baccatum var. baccatum, that turns from green to red

Capsicum chinense

Capsicum chinense or "Chinese capsicum" is a misnomer since all capsica originate in the New World. Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin (1727-1817), an Austrian botanist, erroneously named the species in 1776, because he believed that they originated in China.

Name Hotness Length Description
Adjoema chili.jpg Adjuma 100,000-500,000 SR Very hot, originally from Suriname.
Aji Dulce.jpg Ají dulce 0 SR
Datil.jpg Datil 100,000 to 300,000 SR A very hot chili; primarily grown in Florida.
Fatalii.jpg Fatalii 125,000-325,000 SR
Madame Jeanette chili.jpg Madame Jeanette 100,000-350,000 SR Originally from Suriname.
Habanero.jpg Habanero 100,000 - 350,000 SR 5 cm (2 in) Often (mistakenly) referred to as the hottest, the habanero is nonetheless hotter than most commonly available cultivars. The habanero has a subtle fruity flavour and a floral aroma.
Naga.jolokia.75x.jpg Bhut Jolokia up to 1,000,000 SR 6 cm (2.4 in) Cultivar that originated in Northeast India and was once confirmed by Guinness World Records to be the hottest pepper. It is an interspecies hybrid, largely C. chinense with some C. frutescens genes (see Naga jolokia)
Scotch-bonnet.jpg Scotch bonnet 150,000 - 325,000 SR 5 cm (2 in) Named because of its resemblance to a tam o'shanter, this fruit is closely related to the habanero and is similarly hot. Due to its heat and distinct flavour, it is often used in Caribbean cuisine.
Trinidad Scorpion Butch T up to 1,400,000 Former world-record hottest chili.
Trinidad Moruga Scorpion up to 2,000,000 World-record for hottest chili as of 2012.

Capsicum frutescens

Name Hotness Length Description
African red devil peppers.jpg African birdseye 50,000-175,000 SR 2.5 cm (1.0 in) Also known as Piri piri, common In Portuguese, Mozambican and Angolan cuisines
Thai peppers.jpg Bird's eye chili 50,000-100,000 SR 3.5 cm (1.37 in) Native to the Philippines, this is locally known as "Labuyo". It's very hot and is often mixed in sauce instead of mixing it in dishes. Its color ranges from green, orange to red.
Tabasco.75x.jpg Tabasco 30,000-50,000 SR 4 cm (1.5 in) Native to Mexico, this fruit is now grown in large amounts in Louisiana by McIlhenny Company for the sauce of the same name. Thai 75,000 - 150,000 SR 4 cm (1.5 in) Thin fruit with a pointed tip. Often used in the cuisines of Southeast Asia, especially (as the name implies) Thailand.

Capsicum pubescens

Capsicum pubescens is among the oldest of domesticated peppers, and was grown up to 5000 years ago. It is probably related to undomesticated plants that still grow in South America (cardenasii, eximium, and others).

Name Hotness Length Description
Rocoto.75x.jpg Rocoto 50,000 - 250,000 SR 6 cm (2.5 in) Round / square-shaped fruit with black seeds. Popular in Latin America, particularly in Bolivia and Perú. Used in salsas, raw, and for stuffing. In Bolivia it is commonly known as 'Locoto' and is used for the popular 'Llajwa'.

Capsicum praetermissum

Capsicum praetermissum is wild hot pepper, bearing tiny fruits reminiscent of a pequin. Extremely aromatic and very fruity. The plant is uncommon and an interesting ornamental as well as edible, particularly for the pepper enthusiast.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 June 2012 at 12:31
Muchas Gracías for your exemplary post chockful of valuable information on the world of chili peppers.
Please do note too: I had posted a tiny guide within the Mexican English Glossary and the South American ( Peruvian ) English Glossary; however, not nearly as extensive as your´s.
Very worthwhile reference,
Grazie. Ciao.
Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.
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