There are people who should really be called chile abusers--ask anybody who's ever been to a chili cook-off or watched a chile-eating contest. But people who actually like to taste their food usually like chiles too, and in countries where peppers are an integral part of the cuisine, they're nearly always in the majority.
These traditional cuisines show the many ways chiles can be used to create exciting dishes that are not mere endurance contests. It's all a matter of imagination and balance. These are some of our favorite hot dishes.
This recipe, adapted from "Peppers--Hot and Chile" by Georgeanne Brennan and Charlotte Glenn (Aris Books, 1988: $9.95), is one of the few desserts we found that uses chiles as an ingredient. The authors note it may also be served as a first course.
JALAPENO TART WITH ORANGES
2 tablespoons minced roasted jalapeno chiles
1 teaspoon minced ginger root
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
Pulp and juice of 2 oranges