Monday, September 30, 2013

Fall is Chile Time

Why is it that no matter how long you make them, vacations are never long enough.  It always seems like I’m just getting into the groove and feeling like a local when it's time to come home.

New Mexico Chile Peppers
We just spent a fantastic week in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  For those of you who know us well, you know that Santa Fe is our someday dream-home destination.  So when visiting, we try to camouflage our Midwestern selves and meld into the local scenery.

Santa Fe Farmer's Market in the Railyard district

Arriving in town late on Friday gave us the perfect opportunity to take full advantage of the Saturday morning farmer's market, located in Santa Fe's historic Railyard district.  Late summer packs in hundreds of vendors who bring homegrown produce, baked tarts and pies, and fresh and dried flower bouquets.

Fresh and dried flowers

September is chile time in New Mexico.  Now I am not referring to chili as in the ubiquitous chili cook-off, I am talking about chile pepper harvest time.  Poblanos, serranos, jalapeños and many other types of chiles with varying degrees of hotness line the vendor stalls.    

Peppers with varying degrees of hotness

Chile vendors bring giant chile roasters with steel drums to roast batches of chiles onsite upon request.  It is not unlikely to see customers waiting in line with 20 - 40 pounds of chiles to be roasted.  Just the aroma of the roasting chiles will make your mouth water and maybe your eyes too.  But none the less, they smell wonderful.   

Steel drum chile roaster with market baskets in the background

Even though we tried to disguise ourselves as locals, we were dead giveaways for visitors.  I call ourselves visitors rather than tourists because according to my 13-year-old niece, once you have visited a place more than three times, you are no longer a tourist. 

Don’t get me wrong.  We weren’t wearing fanny packs or giant cameras around our necks.  We just weren’t buying anything like the locals were, each with armloads of ingredients and produce ready to take home to incorporate into their dishes.  This is just one of the disadvantages of “just visiting”.   

A colorful assortment of mums

Although we weren’t able to take advantage of the offerings at the market that day, later in the week we learned how to roast and use some of these chiles at The Santa Fe School of Cooking. 

By the way, I am almost positive that this is exactly how the locals learned to cook their chiles. 

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