Salsa, the Sauce, not the Dance!
avatar

Salsa is almost as important to the Latino culture as chutney is to East Indian communities. North Americans, slow to salsa
cultivate “ethnic” food, seem to be adapting more to salsa than chutney lately. Basically each is a healthy, savory relish, or side,  served to compliment certain other foods prepared for family meals. See Foodsite Magazine’s article, BUILD YOUR OWN CHUTNEY for similarities. 

To generalize, it is probably safe to say Indians lean more strongly on much more spicing, while the Latin community uses some spices and many variations of hot chile pepper with less variation in vegetables or fruits. The making of of a sauce by combining chiles, and other ingredients like squash seeds and even beans into a tomato base, has been traced back to the Aztec culture. Continue reading

Cilantro/Coriander — Same Herb, Two Names
avatar

Almost worldwide, except for the United States, the leaves and seeds from the coriander plant are called coriander. In the States, however, the Spanish word, cilantro, is used for coriander’s leaves. Part of the carrot family, cilantro is used fresh in salsas, salads, burritos, pickles, curries and the meat dishes of many cuisines. It is sometimes called Mexican Parsley or Chinese Parsley and lends a citrus-like flavor.   Dried coriander is used in bakery goods, and a flavoring for liqueurs.

There are, however, many people who can’t or won’t tolerate cilantro. Their dislike is so widespread, scientists have explained cilantro’s aroma contains aldehydes, the same type found in certain soaps, lotions and offensive insects, three items not at all associated with food. Thus, the “cilantro turn-off.” Yet, in spite of this, cilantro is happily consumed by many millions of people around the world, particularly in Asia, Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, Scandinavia and Latin America. Continue reading