Since I was giving the British TV food chefs a bit of a hard time for a slight mispronunciation of Spanish, I thought I should point out the Jamie Oliver did use a Spanish ingredient – chorizo sausage – and pronounced it correctly as [čoriθo] with a “th” or /θ/ for the Spanish z.
But wait (I hear from the U.S. students of Spanish I) – shouldn’t chorizo be [čoriso] with z pronounced as [s]? Yes if it comes from a Latin American country like Mexico. In Latin America the letters c and z are pronounced as [s], while back in Spain, they are pronounced as [θ]. Both appear to come from original Old Spanish [ts] c,ç or [dz] z.
Normally, this would be just linguistic trivia, but here the pronunciation difference reflects an actual culinary difference. According to Norman Van Aken (Starchefs.com) the chorizo of Spain is somewhat like pepperoni with a little paprika kick (I can attest to that) while Mexican chorizo is softer like an Italian sausage and goes well with scrambled eggs. Some equate Mexican cite lang=”es”>chorizo with Spain’s chorizo fresco (or “fresh chorizo”).
So…If you are from the U.S. (especially the West coast), chorizo is probably the Mexican variety and should be [čoriso]. But if you’ve got the harder Spanish variety instead (which may be more likely in Britain), then it really would be [čoriθo].
Truth be told, I doubt any Spanish native speaker makes a distinction because all dialects tend to pronounce c,z in just one way. But since English can make the /s/ vs. /t/ distinction, I have decided to have two lexical entries for the chorizo sausage family – [čoriso] for the fresh version and [čoriθo] for the cured version. It’s a good thing that I noted that grammar isn’t always logical.
FYI – Jamie Oliver was using the cured version…[čoriθo]