Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Food and Drink

Let it snow? Let it snow? Let it snow?



The weather forecast? Well, as I'm writing this, it's snow for today up on Whistler's slopes; snow tomorrow; snow the next day and the next; and some snow in the village to boot.

There's more snow, on Cypress, Grouse and Seymour mountains, pushing the envelope on sliding season to the limits. Even little knob-of-a-hill Burnaby Mountain, home to Simon Fraser University and the buses that can't make it up the hill in the snow, might see some of the white stuff this week.

In Pemberton Valley, farmers can't wait to see the last of the snow, creeping as it is to mid-April as they wonder, when on Earth can we get those darn seeds in the ground? And they're still ice fishing for kokanee at Williams Lake, where even more snow is expected.

So Happy April, Happy Spring? - emphasize that question mark - with the third snowiest season on record at Whistler Blackcomb thanks to the cooling effects of an exaggerated La NiƱa condition out in the Pacific Ocean that's delivered to Pig Alley a fat 1400+ centimetres (550+ inches for our American friends).

If "moderation in all things" is your refrain, or you've simply had it up to here with this endless winter, the easiest antidote and one much cheaper than even Expedia can deliver, is to cook up a storm, a piquant, comforting storm, with a great chilli theme from somewhere between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. We can only hope it will evoke memories of some place, some time there wasn't a snowflake in sight.

Sorry, but given the weather, I can't resist the British variant of "chilli" with the two "l's", which delivers an ironic twist what with "chill" embedded and all. Besides, it's the spelling usually preferred by scientists plus it's the original Aztec form that was subsequently corrupted into the Spanish variants of "chile" and "chili," the latter of which has become the preferred Canadian spelling.

This might settle in your mind, once and for all, why you see so many spellings around on every spice shelf and Tex-Mex menu from here to Fort Worth and back for that little magical ingredient of chilli, chile, chili. Take your pick; I've taken mine.

But the one and singular joy of the Capsicum family, responsible as it is for the 25 species delivering those fine little chilli peppers - fruits they are, technically - which have now outstripped black pepper, the former darling in the spice nation, by a production ratio of about 20 to1, is that it really does heat you up.

As you might have noticed after chopping up fresh chillis, the pungent chemical called capsaicin that sets a-tingle your fingers and, lord knows, any mucous membranes you happen to touch, including your eyeballs, is located in the pale, pithy tissue called the placenta which holds the seeds inside the hollow chilli fruit.