The green chile: Its history and place in New Mexican identity
By CANDICE BRUSUELAS
It’s an old joke for New Mexicans to poke fun at people who don’t know what green chile is. We order it on our Mexican food at restaurants and hear, “You mean jalapenos?” or “Bell peppers?” And it’s often directed at Texans. I’ll admit, I’ve had my share of poking fun at H-E-B, which uses green chile in strange ways, and the way all Texans refer to green chile as “Hatch Chile,” but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to share the joy and love of green chile with all my Texas friends. Green chile is part of the New Mexican culture. It’s part of the New Mexico identity.
If you are an avid Candice’s Kitchen reader, you know that I am a native New Mexican. I’ve lived in Texas a little over a year now and have come to appreciate all that is good about the Hill Country. Texas has some amazing things to offer, like beautiful rivers and scenery, and friendly, generous people. I haven’t mentioned how all the little towns here have a heart — a life — of their own. But my heart will always belong one state over, where I was raised on a steady diet of New Mexican food.
Now, I’d like to clear up a few misconceptions Texans seem to have about green chile. You’ve seen the H-E-B fliers with “Hatch Chiles” posted left and right, on meats, salsas, seasonings and whatever else you can think of. It is true that a majority of our coveted chile is from Hatch, but “Hatch Chile” is a brand name, not the official name of the pepper we refer to as “green chile.” Bueno also has their own green chile as does 505 Southwestern among many others. There are some smaller brands that originate in Hatch that are also not “Hatch Chile.” But they are all the same delicious green chile peppers grown under the New Mexico sun.
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