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

    1 Reply
    1. re: pikawicca

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

      1. 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. 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

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

          2. 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

              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

                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

                  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

                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? ;-)