Monday, January 23, 2006

It's Chile not chilli

chile flag
When I hear the word 'Chile', I first think of the plant rather than the country simply because chillies (*) form an integral part of my diet. This time, however, I'm talking about the country because a visitor from there made Chile the fiftieth country to visit my blog. That isn't strictly true as I only installed that nifty little neocounter on the 14th of December whereas this blog has been alive since late August of last year. And, for all I know, those countries identified as 'country not detected' and 'satellite provider' could well have been countries not already listed as visitors. But, be that as it may, I'm honouring Chile as the fiftieth country to visit here.

I don't have any particular fascination for Chile although I'd like to visit it sometime but I've always had a thing for flags ever since collecting and swapping flag cards in primary school. They used to come with bubble gum that the kids at my school bought from Jacobias, the Indian shop across the road from my school on Avenida 24 de Julho in Maputo, formerly Lourenço Marques.

avenida 24 de julho, maputoReading this blog, you may have noticed that this fascination for flags continues to this day. In a previous post about the Mozambiquan flag I mentioned that many of the colonial street names were changed after independence to honour the heroes of communism and socialism and that those names still remain even after the demise of communism in Mozambique. Interestingly enough, Av 24 de Julho never changed its name even though you'd have thought a street named after a date during the colonial era would have a significance inextricably linked to the colonial period. Well, I wish I could remember the real reason for it and google isn't being of too much help today. If I recall correctly, while the original name was tied to a significant Portuguese historical event, the same day of the year also holds significance for the Mozambiquans so the name was allowed to stay.

botanical print - chilli pepperAnd since we're discussing the Portuguese in this 'chile post', it may interest you to know that Portuguese sailors were responsible for spreading chillis around the world. The hot, fiery taste of the chilli is synonymous with the cooking of vast parts of Africa, the Middle East, India, Thailand, etc but until the plant was introduced to those parts of the world by Portuguese sailors it was unknown there. Chillies were quickly and readily incorporated into Asian cuisines probably because the people there were already familiar with pungent and spicy flavours. But while the Portuguese were responsible for spreading the plant around the world, it was Columbus who was responsible for its discovery by Europe. Diego Álvarez Chanca, a physician on his second voyage to the West Indies brought the first chilli peppers to Spain in 1493 and wrote about their medicinal effects in 1494.

piri piri restaurant windowpiri piri restauranttop end of avenida 24 de julho, location of the piri piriThe most widely used chilli in Mozambique is piri piri. One of Maputo's most famous restaurants, a restaurant that's been there for many decades, is called the Piri Piri. It's famous for its uncomplicated but delicious seafood and, in particular, frango piri piri (piri piri chicken). Coincidentally, discussing the Piri Piri takes us back to Avenida 24 de Julho as that's where it's situated, about 5 minutes walk from where my school was situated. I usually got a lift or caught the bus home but there were times when I'd meet my mother there for lunch after school or we'd go there for a meal in the evening when my grandmother was visiting. There were other restaurants that I preferred to it but I loved tucking into pieces of their delicious chicken served with a pile of chips and salad.

I seem to have forgotten the original reason for this post and got waylaid by food, plants, history and nostalgia. So let's get back to the fiftieth country to visit this blog, Chile.

Well, since I know very little about Chile apart from the Pinochet saga, you'd be safer going elsewhere for information or anecdotes about the country. If you're interested, you may want to go here or here or here.

(*) While I prefer to spell chilli as 'chilli', 'chile' is also a perfectly acceptable spelling for the plant/fruit. And, in case you are wondering, even though chillies are indigenous to South America, Chile was not named after them.

22 Comments:

Blogger xmichra said...

cool. I didn't know that (um.. the whole thing really ;) )

My brother and I were so excited when we first got a new set of encyclopedias. I think I was seven.. so he would have been five. We were mostly astounded with all the flags and countries.. we had never heard of them before, and hadn't really traveled. So this was beyond great to us. We memorized and quizzed each other with the flags, and made big games out of knowing them . I think My mom thought we were nuts... but the flags were very pretty.

10:22 pm  
Blogger Frog with a Blog said...

I love flags as well. My favorite ones must be the South African and the Saudi Arabian flags. I can look at maps and flags for hours. I'm such a geek...

10:40 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

xmichra: I also used to love encyclopaedias and could spend hours browsing through them. I also used to spend hours going through my grandfather's medical text books (he was a doctor) - it may explain my oddness :-) These days, with things like wikpedia around we don't really need them but you can't really beat a nice heavy, um, tome in your hands.

mick: you aren't a geek, you are a frog. glad you like the S African flag - some don't as they say it looks like y-fronts. Do you know that it was once thought that it would be a temporary flag to replace the old one at the time of the democratic elections and that a new permanent one would be designed later? All talk of that has gone as most South Africans are very proud of the new flag.

10:47 pm  
Blogger Bill said...

Must be a gay thing - lol. I'm very into vexillology, too :)

10:48 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

That's what it's called? Odd name!

11:40 pm  
Blogger xmichra said...

I didn't know it was called that either! Very good vocabulary bill!!.. uh, but I would like to point out (for this purpose) that I am not gay.. so what would be my deal?? haha...

1:13 am  
Blogger LiVEwiRe said...

I think you need to organize a trip for us to go there. You know, kind of check these things out first hand. Oh yeah, I have my passport... let's go!

7:57 am  
Blogger Rob7534 said...

Wait I have to get my passport first!

Also, Nomad, pretty chilli :)

8:54 am  
Anonymous Feli said...

Where did you get that picture of Piri Piri from above? Looks as if taken from one of my former flats.

1:30 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

livewire and rob: have I converted you to the charms of Moz/Portuguese food and the charms of Moz? Good!

feli: I got it from a feng shui website, of all places! A South African one. I can find the url if you are interested. Do you still live in Maputo? I used to live in Matola before moving to Maxixe. And, like I said in the post, I attended school very near to Piri Piri at the English Primary School. Hang on, I think you may be referring to the 'aerial pic' and not the ones of the restaurant itself. I found that on a brilliant site of pictures and information on Mozambique. I can also find that url if you want.

1:44 pm  
Anonymous feli said...

Hellooo there, it's me, Feli from Maputo, remember? Actually, Costa do Sol right now... got it? The flat in the building 24 de Julho / Av. Armando Tivane was my first flat here, 5th floor. From my bedroom window I had exactly that view. And thanks for offering, but as I see this beautiful place every day I don't need to look it up on the web. Although - might look better...

2:55 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

Ah, that Feli, my favourite Maputo resident!! I know you are sometimes called that but I'm still used to you as Felicitas. How nice of you to pop by! xx

3:12 pm  
Blogger Frog with a Blog said...

Typically Nomad to not even recognize his friends!!!

I want to go back to Maputo NOW!... and Chile too! Your posts give me the traveling bug again...

4:19 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

You have been to Chile before?

Feli dropping round has solved my Ghana question of a few days ago. It's not a regular visitor from Ghana but Feli from Maputo. I wonder why she shows up as being from Ghana. Another visitor who visits from S Africa has sitemeter showing him in Mauritius but the flag meter thingy shows him as S African.

If you have the travelling bug, you could always pop over Dimanche or whatever you frogs call that dirty ribbon of water. :-)

4:30 pm  
Blogger Frog with a Blog said...

Finally, the Ghana question is solved! No, I haven't been to Chile, just to Moz. I'd love to go to Chile, I'd love to go everywhere actually. That's my problem. I'm headed for Northern Africa for the first time this summer, to see where my grandparents and my Mom used to live and try to meet people who may have met them. Exciting!

Traveling across the poisonous ribbon of water (LA MANCHE) doesn't count as a trip though, it would feel as unexotic as traveling to some poor Parisian suburb on a Sunday (DIMANCHE) really... (and here I just confirmed how arrogant Parisians are, always glad to confirm clichés). But thanks for the invitation, I'd rather meet you in SA though.

5:07 pm  
Blogger Frog with a Blog said...

ok, I realize I forgot to *wink* after what I said about the other side of the polluted ribbon of water and your 568 UK readers are all going to hate me so here it is: *wink*.

5:20 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

I can't say that I know much about Paris or Parisians as I've never given them much thought.

6:04 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

*delayed wink*

6:04 pm  
Blogger rhino75 said...

Well, I have been to Chile, and I thought it was rather fab. Though I was the coldest I have ever been, lying on my stomach rubbing noses with penguins at Otway Sound, not far from Punta Arenas. The scenery in the south is INCREDIBLE. And Micke, what can I say? Luckily, I'M broad-minded and selfless enough (typical British traits) to pay the punitive income tax demanded by your government and therefore help keep your pooped-out economy ticking over. Cheese and wine is all very nice, but you can't run a country on it...

10:03 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

I must find that funny post giving further reasons to hate the French. Written by an American. However, it will make micke puff up his chest which is NOT the desired effect! :-)

10:08 pm  
Blogger Rob7534 said...

Poor Micke, don't let them give you shit about being French. I, on the other hand, LOVE the french.

What can I say, I LOVE French Fries!

6:32 am  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

Oh, I rather like them to despite what impression I may give. Here is that link I was talking about:

http://rjr10036.typepad.com/proceed_at_your_own_risk/2006/01/why_you_hate_th.html

10:23 am  

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