Chile on eggs?

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Thu Jul 12 16:15:14 UTC 2001

In a message dated 7/12/01 11:11:59 AM Eastern Daylight Time,

> But doesn't anyone eat salsa or chile on eggs? Standard fare for us
>  Southwesterners. Actually, in New Mexico, the question is "red or green?"
>  with your eggs, meaning red chile made from ground red chile pods, or green
>  made from chopped green chiles

The pepper is "chili"; the country is "Chile".  In English both words are
pronounced as "chilly", but in Spanish they are definitely NOT homonyms.  In
Spanish an unstressed long "e" and and unstressed long "a" are distinctly
different phonemes.  Best illustration would be "Thursday" versus "thirsty"
by an English-speaker who does not render "Thursday" as "Thursdy".

The words also have different etymologies.  "Chili" is from Nahuatl, a group
of languages in and around Mexico that includes Aztec.  I don't know the
derivation of "Chile", but I doubt any Nahuatl languages are spoken there.

The confusion of the two words goes back quite a ways.  "Chile" for the food
is rather common, particularly in "chile con carne".  I have two books, an
1862 encyclopedia and an 1894 chemistry text, that refer to the country as

Now to go on-topic but away from philology.

Q.  How can you tell whether you are in Arizona?
A.  Go to the nearest McDonald's and see if they serve jalapen~os.

A local roadside farm stand (now unfortunately out of business) solved the
problem of bland ketchup by using as sweetener not sugar or corn syrup but
grape juice.  Try it sometime.

I have been in all-too-many diners in which the only way to make the eggs
edible was to reach for the nearest sauce, be it ketchup, salsa, A-1, chili,
or Tabasco.

       - Jim Landau  (who is wondering what condiment to use on square eggs)

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