Potent dried chilies in transit

Unfortunately, we had to depart Mexico City midday yesterday, and on our route back, we stopped over in Dallas. After going through Global Entry and clearing U.S. Customs, we re-entered domestic airport security to board our flight back to LaGuardia. For whatever reason, my big bag of chilies and other edibles I’d purchased in Mexico set off the security machine, and my backpack had to get inspected.

Of the edible delights I’d purchased in Oaxaca and Mexico City, I got dried chilies of the ancho rojo variety, which are dried poblanos known to be sweet and meaty, with a medium spice profile; morita, which are short, fat, smoked and dried jalapenos that are spicy, toasty, and roasty in flavor; pasilla, which are chocolate-colored, slender, and add richness without heat; and guajillo, which are a vibrant red hue with moderate heat, and slightly acidic in flavor. Of these, I’d used ancho and guajillo before, but the other two were new to me. They’re popularly used in moles, sauces, and various types of Mexican salsas. I also purchased three types of Mexican chocolate and some extremely fragrant and fresh dried oregano. The dried chilies’ fragrance was rich and unmistakable; they scented up all the clothes in my backpack, for better or for worse. As soon as the security agent unzipped my backpack, her eyes widened immediately, and she smiled and asked if these were dried chilies. I told her they were, and she asked where I was coming from. I told her, and she laughed. “Of course, these are from Mexico. This is potent stuff! The smell is so, so strong!”

I was so proud of my purchases. If I’d carried more than just my backpack and work carry-on, I definitely would have purchased more dried chilies, but alas, I had to exercise self-control in an effort to be a light packer. Chris made fun of me and likened me to an old grandma carrying a raw chicken across state lines. I’m just being an avid, international cook.

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