Salsa Verde

John Vanderslice


It is known as the spicier of the two common varieties, although green is not the historically, culturally, aesthetically, or physically mandated shade for extreme, for dangerous, for watch out!   No, green has been, until now, our determined code for all okay, situation normal; even: There is no presently recognized national security threat.   Green is the color of bloated summer leaves, silent grasses, and tasteless lettuce.  What colors do we associate instead with spice, with heat?  Red.  Yellow.  Orange.  RojoAmarilloNaranja.  Even the names are hotter, in both languages.  Consider the hottest peppers known to grow on the planet: the Carolina Reaper, the Trinidad Scorpion, the Douglah, the Primo, the Ghost.  What are their shades? Red and yellow usually, sometimes orange, sometimes purple (púrpura), sometimes, but rarely, chocolate (chocolate).   There are of course two or three green peppers familiar to most of us; notably the jalapeño, used ubiquitously to add flame to our banal American dishes.  But, to speak scientifically, the jalapeño ranks near the bottom of the SHU (Scoville Heat Unit) scale.  8000 at most; in some cases, as low as 5000.  Compare that to 2.2 million SHUs for a Carolina Reaper.   The jalapeño is, against its brothers, a perfectly mild, barely perceptible pepper.   For a Texan, the same as eating ice cream.  And yet, who can deny salsa verde?


There is no boy like Jimmy Neutron.  In fact, Jimmy Neutron never was a boy, but a grown woman’s voice set inside a bulbous, computer-drawn head sporting an outrageous faux-Elvis do and a bright red shirt with a yellow graphic of an atom at its center.  So let’s not think of Jimmy as an actual boy, or even as an actual human, but as an emblem.  But which emblem, and for what purpose?  What was Jimmy Neutron at heart?  A character, yes.  And a perfectly telling one.  He was not merely the central protagonist of the animated television series The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, which aired for three seasons on the Nickelodeon television network in the early 2000s.   Nor was he merely a science genius, a nerdy and archetypally insecure geek.  Rather, at heart, Jimmy was the Good-Natured Regular Kid.   The one you recognized, the one you cared about, the one you rooted for.  A smarter, shyer, cuter Dennis the Menace.  The one who was endowed with a whole host of personality features, as real kids were, and not just the one that the show wanted to isolate and/or satirize.  Don’t believe me?  Jimmy Neutron, you say?  A regular kid?  The one with the faux-Elvis do, the atom shirt, and a 210 IQ?

Just compare Jimmy to his patently less intelligent friends: Carl Wheezer—an obese, overly-freckled, high-voiced, orange-haired ninny who shouted to the viewer, This is the kid who the others torture so badly that later in life, desperate for the same bullying power, he becomes a Republican Party hatchet man and dirt-monger; or Sheen Estevez—a loyal but ditzy and too-animated, emotional string-bean of a boy, one that shouted to the viewer, This is the kid who will perennially chase the wrong girl before giving all it all up for methamphetamine.   Heck, compare Jimmy to the one who was his closet actual ally: a robot dog named Goddard.  Who’s the human in these comparisons?  Who do we like?