Is it chili, chilli, chile…pepper?

The cool weather has inspired me to make renew the winter supply of one of my favorite comfort food: chili con carne. Looking over my stock of these spicy, flavorful peppers–pasilla guajillo, ancho, chipotle, jalapeno, serrano–brought on this rumination about what we call them.  I’m obviously terribly ambivalent since it seem I have to keep looking to see what I used last time.

In reference works like Merriam Webster Unabridged Dictionary, Encyclopedia Britannica or even Wikipedia, you find all these forms listed for what we call the spicy fruits of the genus Capsicum. Sometimes it’s with the “pepper”, other times it’s just chili. Other sources like The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion seen to prefer chile.

Frankly, I really liked the suggestion of Harold McGee in On Food and Cooking that we simply use the chilli (which is what he does), from the original Nahuat where these lovely spicy, piquant fruits came from!

So, I guess it’s time to make some chilli con carne!