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Will Owen Dec 14, 2007 03:52 PM

There is a pepper which is identified in all the books and other reference I can find as the Poblano - nice dark-green thing, heart-shaped and shiny, about 4-6" long. It's fairly hot when raw, more so than your typical Anaheim, but mellows to just barely spicy when cooked and has a great flavor. The other thing I like about it is the skin's so thin you don't have to peel it. As Mrs. O despises sweet peppers but loves the hot ones, I have been using these in any recipe calling for bell pepper, with excellent results.

Only thing is, in the regular commercial grocery and produce markets these are labelled "Pasillas." This despite the fact that a real pasilla is a long skinny dried pepper, as ALL THE BOOKS will tell you. It's as though we woke up one morning and suddenly cucumbers were being sold under the name of Banana, and no matter what evidence there was to the contrary they'd be labelled that way, they'd scan that way, and if you wanted your grocer to stock cucumbers you'd have to ask him to order bananas.

Perhaps this is a silly thing for an elderly man to be fussing about, but I just can't understand how a vegetable can get mislabelled in the first place, and then how that mislabelling can take on the quality of settled fact without anyone's hollering, "Hold it there, bud!"

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  1. pikawicca RE: Will Owen Dec 14, 2007 04:02 PM

    I've found the same thing in my supermarket, and it drives me crazy.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pikawicca
      CarolynLeslie RE: pikawicca Nov 21, 2009 02:47 PM

      Me too. Love the peppers though no matter what they are called. Some of my favorite to cook with.

    2. Sam Fujisaka RE: Will Owen Dec 14, 2007 04:12 PM

      You've made my day.

      1. Gio RE: Will Owen Dec 14, 2007 04:19 PM

        In my semi-regular market a Poblano is labeled a Poblano. Thank goodness.
        A rose by ay other name.......just wouldn't be the same.

        1. paulj RE: Will Owen Dec 14, 2007 05:26 PM

          Applying 'pasilla' to this fresh pepper is mainly a California quirk. Bayless mentions this in his 1987 Authentic Mexican. I don't know if it can be traced to neighboring parts of Mexico, or how far back it goes.

          Poblano - from Puebla
          Pasilla - raisin like. The skinny, wrinkled ones (dried chilaca) fits the name, but the dark Poblanos are also raisin like in color.
          Dried poblano is usually called 'ancho', wide.


          1 Reply
          1. re: paulj
            paulj RE: paulj Dec 14, 2007 07:59 PM

            Diana Kennedy, Regional Cooks, 1978, also notes these regional variations in names.

          2. s
            Sherri RE: Will Owen Dec 14, 2007 05:54 PM

            Will Owen, just because some GS-1 produce clerk, who normally labels plural potatoes as being possessive potatoe's with that blasted apostrophe, says it is a "Pasilla" doesn't make it so.

            You know the difference, as does Mark Miller (Coyote Cafe) who writes:
            "PASILLA, also known as the "chile negro", literally "little raisin", the pasilla is a dried chilaca chile. There is some confusion over the name of this chile: in California and northern Mexico, the fresh poblano and its dried forms, the ancho and mulato, are referred to (mistakenly) as pasillas." .....From the mouth of the knowledgable horse.

            For the time being, we'll have to make do with their mistaken nomenclature, at least until we can persuade the store owners that they look silly with this mis-labeling. (If said owners are Easterners, this may be a challenge)

            4 Replies
            1. re: Sherri
              paulj RE: Sherri Dec 14, 2007 07:30 PM

              And from Dave DeWitt, "The Pope of Peppers"
              Note that the dried chilaca is called chile negro in some places.
              Elsewhere DeWitt writes that the Poblano is called 'miabuateco' in southern Mexico. And the dried poblano is called, in some places, 'mulato' - black.

              Variations in regional names of chiles is quite common, especially for ones that were well established before modern commerce.

              1. re: paulj
                Eat_Nopal RE: paulj Dec 15, 2007 08:35 AM

                Exactly... aside from Scientific Names... no one really looks silly for using their region's terminology. I may be wrong but I don't the Mexican government has ever come up with official names for any of the chiles... and has just allowed the regional terminology to prevail... so you can't blame people for having different descriptions.

                1. re: Eat_Nopal
                  Will Owen RE: Eat_Nopal Mar 24, 2008 02:00 PM

                  Then we should all feel at ease with the fact that in Tennessee (Middle Tennessee, at least) daffodils are almost universally referred to as buttercups... most rattling to me, since where I grew up (SE Illinois) half the population called them daffodils, the other half crocuses. But we definitely knew what a buttercup was!

              2. re: Sherri
                BerkshireTsarina RE: Sherri Mar 24, 2008 07:41 PM

                Here in the east ----Western MA--- where good Mexican food and supplies are really challenging to come by, at least our supermarkets label poblanos, poblanos. Maybe if your CA store owners WERE Easterners, there would be less confusion? ;-)

              3. paulj RE: Will Owen Dec 15, 2007 12:36 PM

                As I think about more, customers who learn about these peppers by the BOOK should be able to buy them by the BOOK. Erroneous names like 'pasilla' should be restricted to places where old time Angelinos shop. :)


                1. g
                  ggcool RE: Will Owen Mar 24, 2008 10:18 AM

                  Amen. I'm from Phoenix and some of the variations on dried chile nomenclature are the same way. Chile negros ancho vs. chile negro mulato vs. chile negro pasilla, etc. And these are all on the packaging, no miscommunicaton from the grocer. Makes it hard to know what your getting sometimes by the label alone without knowing what the chile should look like. I work with dried enough that I keep a cheat sheet to help minimize confusion. :)

                  1. Megiac RE: Will Owen Mar 24, 2008 04:30 PM

                    From your mouth to God's ears, Will. On my first visit to a local (Colorado) Latin supermarket, I spent a good 20 minutes in the produce section debating with myself whether the pasilla was in fact a poblano. I eventually decided in the affirmative and brought them home.

                    My new approach is to bring my Mexican cookbook with me to the store, so I can resolve any questions that I have on nomenclature and produce idenitification on the spot.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Megiac
                      Will Owen RE: Megiac Mar 24, 2008 06:27 PM

                      You mean you haven't committed at least one of the many illustrated chile-pepper charts to memory?? You just aren't serious about this, are you? ;-)

                      Seriously, I think we can assume that ANY medium-to-largish fleshy heart-shaped deep green pepper is going to taste really good when cooked, especially if it's either easy to skin or doesn't need it, and the seller can call it Fred for all I care.

                      1. re: Will Owen
                        Sherri RE: Will Owen Mar 24, 2008 06:43 PM

                        Stuff "Fred" with some Monterey Jack cheese mixed w/ hominy, toasted cumin, crema and cilantro (or Mexican oregano) for a quick, delicious supper. Bake until cheese melts and it smells like you need to eat this right NOW.

                    2. s
                      slewfoot RE: Will Owen Nov 21, 2009 06:54 PM

                      A pasilla is a dried chilaca chile. Poblanos, when dried, are called anchos or sometimes mulatos.

                      1. r
                        robertcobb RE: Will Owen May 22, 2014 01:47 PM

                        Will Owen, well, here it is, May of 2014, and I just purchased a beautiful Poblano from Sprouts in Phoenix, labeled "Pasilla". There is no doubt about to, I could send you a picture, but your described it perfectly in 2007. Sprouts is known mainly for it's produce, so it seems like they should be able to get it right. I guess I'm getting to be an ornery old coot myself.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: robertcobb
                          paulj RE: robertcobb May 22, 2014 08:05 PM

                          The packing box probably was marked pasilla. Grocers use the terminology that is common with their distributors and the industry. They don't read CH and cookbooks.

                        2. s
                          sandylc RE: Will Owen May 22, 2014 08:56 PM

                          Regarding calling something the wrong name and then the practice spreads, I have one word: YAMS

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: sandylc
                            paulj RE: sandylc May 22, 2014 10:38 PM

                            Which kind, Japanese, purple, red, white?

                            1. re: paulj
                              sandylc RE: paulj May 23, 2014 10:37 AM

                              Those are sweet potatoes.


                              1. re: sandylc
                                paulj RE: sandylc May 23, 2014 11:17 AM

                                " African slaves had already been calling the ‘soft’ sweet potatoes ‘yams’ because they resembled the yams in Africa. "

                                The history of this terminology (including the origin of 'potato') is interesting, but I don't see why people are bothered. Has anyone been hurt by the use of 'yam' for certain varieties of batata? Who as tried to follow some Caribbean or African recipe, and bought the wrong kind of 'yam'?

                                Speaking of word history, what is romantic about 'raining potatoes' (Falstaff)?
                                " Let the sky rain potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of ‘Green Sleeves;’ hail kissing-comfits and snow eringoes; let there come a tempest of provocation, I will shelter me here."

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