Chile, Chile, Chilly or Chili, not all hot!
A previous conversation re the understanding of learning a foreign language, where indeed there are many tricky bridges to cross, I found myself using the word Chilly as a very hard example. English, holds many words that are same same but different. It took a while, but since prior to that subject we had been discussing my new hot sauce, it was seemingly relevant when I was trying to explain the basis for my Lucie Feu.
I was in France when I decided to start bottling my newly tweaked hot sauce, and, incase you haven't
guessed, my name is Lucy. My very clever, very French friend Carolyn, pulled the name out of nowhere, with such perfection for everything it stood for, that Lucie Feu, was born.
So......Just so we are all in the same chilli bubble!
The west of South America lies the republic of Chile. Well worth a visit, but don't expect spicy food. A country that has a traditional dish based on fresh fish, with Spanish influences and lots of oregano.
That is not hot!
Chile defines the expression of shock, relief or humour.
That is not hot, or is it?
Chile is a Tik Tok and Snapchat favourite in our modern era, thrown around amongst the media and world wide web. That is a synonym of HOT!
Chilly is cold or unfriendly. That is definitely not hot!
Chili, however, and ironically so, is fire, its red, it is shocking at times, and it's one of my best loved spices.
That is unequivocally, HOT!
The legacy - Its fruits are of the genus capsicum, and part of the nightshade family, generally used to add heat to dishes. That heat, contrary to what most believe is stored in the pith and ribs of the chili, a little like the best bits of an orange are hidden in the white pith between fruit and orange peel, not the seeds, which are often scraped from the chilies interior. Originated from Bolivia and one of the oldest crops, self pollinating too, the water stressed plants, taught themselves to produce stronger, hotter pods. The numerous species of Chili pepper became apparent, and it has never stopped evolving. A little like my Lucie Feu. Wikipedia is great read on these bountiful fruits and one that started me on my trail to find the right foundation for my hot sauce. Read it alongside some "feeling hot hot hot" and you will surely embrace the beauty of the chili. Click below, & I bet you ll be tapping toes and shaking shoulders.
My quest for the perfect condiment was seeing the endless bottles of chili oil on restaurant tables.
Pizza places for the most part, but often on other tables in places which for me was a red light, for "tasteless food". I can't help feeling that so often those chili oils are just replaced with olive oil when required, with no love put into what is actually going to be inadvertently poured onto your plate. If your lucky, oils may have had time to ferment and actually provide the heat you may be looking for, but honestly, it needs to be more than that.
Lucie Feu was in my mind an oil, and a condiment in one, but something that did not remove the flavour from your dish, but enhance it. I seemingly wanted the impossible! I wanted an oil, where you could drizzle a flavoured hot oil on your pizza and still taste the fresh chorizo, mozzarella and charcoal base. I wanted an oil that provided heat but did not leave lips burning and the inability to taste further, but I also wanted a condiment, that you could spoon onto dishes and highlight its foundation. Being a chef and someone lucky enough to have travelled quite extensively, I had samples of several oils over the years. I had various recipes in my little black book and in my head would "twist" traditional recipes to make them my own. It is not always easy as I am under no illusion that many twists are based on my personal tastes, a clear example is the lack of well rounded tomatoes in my cooking, simple because I am no fan. However, with this in mind, and the knowledge, in my opinion, were that several hot sauces which were lacking in flavour had been bamboozled by heat, I spent some time trying out several ideas until I reached something that I felt was "it".
Next came the real test, the guinea pigs, namely starting with brave friends and slowly extending to friends of friends. As positive feedback came in, the odd nip and tuck made to address some ideas, some good and many positively dangerous, I settled on a recipe that I have made peace with, and I 'm proud to say I think I have been successful in my vision.
I can't tell you the ingredients in full, that would be ludicrous after such a mission, but I can tell you that peeling endless garlic cloves started as a form of punishment before becoming something of a pleasure in the knowing, I was one step in about 8 from producing another batch of Lucie Feu.
Currently I am now locked in an endless battle with myself in finding the right vessel for Lucie Feu. Lucie Feu needs to be pourable or spoon fed, and finding that perfect provider for both is proving pretty hard. I use the beautifully executed parfait jars presently allowing anyone to ladle or dip to their heart's content but they do not come cheap. I have a new idea to try currently somewhere between China and France which I think may work, but only time will tell. The road is slowly getting shorter from garden, kitchen to table, so watch this space.
"Chili oils on a chilly day will be Chile with Lucie Feu."