A Lukewarm Response to Mexican Food, 1896

Mole Poblano

“The Mexicans seem to have stomachs made from leather judging from the way they endure excessive drinking, smoking (both men and women indulging in both), and the amount of chile they use. This chile is similar to our pepper. I know that it is awfully hot stuff and must be very injurious to the mucous membrane of the stomach. If I ate one-tenth as much at a time as a native would, it would take the roof off my mouth. I shall never forget my first experience; it was while we were staging and we stopped to change mules and get dinner. It was an entirely Mexican establishment except the American beer which gets even way down here. Well, I began eating,—there were two Americans, one a Dr. Norris of New York, and two Mexicans traveling with me,—and Dr. Norris asked me to try the chile pronouncing it very good (he has been in this country before), the Mexicans also said the same. I went at it very charily. It is a suspicious looking article the way they prepare it. I ate and it seemed that there might be some trace of cantharides on the roof of my mouth. They remarked that is nothing and keep right on, might just as well begin now as later. The Mexicans kept on laughing. Nothing daunted, I kept bravely on, determined not to give up before them. But I didn’t care for any more chile for one while. A Mexican dinner is enjoyable nevertheless for a change.”

From: Paul Opperman, El Oro, Mexico, July 16, 1896. Editor, Cleveland Medical Gazette, Volume 11, 1896.

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AboutDave Dewitt

Dave is known in the media as "The Pope of Peppers" because of the 36 books he's written on chile peppers and spicy food around the world. He's also co-producer of the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show and editor and publisher of the Fiery Foods & Barbecue SuperSite at His latest book, with chile breeder Dr. Paul Bosland, is The Complete Chile Pepper Book.

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