Saturday, June 16, 2012

Chiles

You probably remember a time when you had a different media experience in different places in the US. My military friends who might read this blog and were stationed at Fort Meade will remember WRNR in Annapolis, MD as an example of the good old days of media-diversity. Not so much now, especially in radio, which has been consolidated and homogenized.

There's still great food regionalism in this country, though. A good example is stuffed quahogs, something you will only find in New England, specifically Cape Cod and maybe Rhode Island. There's also southern food. And barbecue. Steamed and fried clams, also only in New England. Don't even ask about my efforts to get shad roe this spring. I didn't get any. Traditions come and go depending on where one is when fresh fish are involved.


Here in New Mexico, the cuisine is nearly dominated by red and green chile. The green roasted, red dried.Both made into chile sauce and put on New Mexican food and lots of other foods. 

In southern New Mexico down near Hatch, chile capital of the world, they get an unbelievable 350 sunny days a year. This along with high desert cool nights and high altitude make for perfect chile growing conditions. Chiles are a lot like oysters in that way - where they are grown has an effect on how good they are.
 

Tomorrow we're having brunch at Grahams Grill in Taos. Like all good restaurants here, their menu is laden with chiles. They are in in their gourmet mac and cheese, like lobster would be in a Boston restaurant's gourmet take on the stuff. Of course it's on one of their burgers. It's in one of their stock omelets too.

I lived in Korea for several years and ate very spicy food day in and day out. I was surprised when I had some pork stew at the local casino buffet that was too spicy for me to enjoy. Too spicy for me shouldn't be, but it was. And that at the casino buffet? These New Mexicans like hot food.

Chile production in New Mexico is declining slowly, the victim of the rise of cheaper, foreign-grown chiles.

The State Question of New Mexico is "Red or green?" asked when ordering food that takes chile. The best answer is "Christmas".

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