The Cult of the Green Chile


Photo: The legendary green chile cheeseburger from the Bobcat Bite restaurant in Santa Fe, NM. (George Motz

New Mexico, where the cult of the chile – the state’s official fruit (yes, fruit) – verges on the religious. The fruit’s likeness is a sort of state Virgin de Guadalupe – ristras, hanging strings of chile pods, bless front porches everywhere. Chile sauce is slathered on every native food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Thousands make a pilgrimage to the annual September harvest festival in this town, the self-proclaimed chile capital of the world, to buy their yearly stock. And it would seem that the trade in chile thotchckes and T-shirts is a bigger state export than the chiles themselves. … A wet chile is not a happy chile. There’s a reason chiles thrive in the baking sun of the southern New Mexico desert. Wet chile plants ripen too fast, and pods maturing at lower temperatures can have less bite. Muddy fields make for difficult harvesting, and some of the green and most of the red chiles (which ripen later) hadn’t been picked in time for the Labor Day festival…

Over time, the tables and tastebuds of Americans have become fond and desirous of enjoying increasingly hot foods … now things are measured in Scoville units … and, upon reading this article, I now can begin to see why …

New Mexico’s Cult of the Chile (Christian Science Monitor)

reported by Melissa Goodman 

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