Monday, August 19, 2013

It's a New Mexico Thing!

Note: It's summer, the season of reruns, and I decided to take a day off and rerun this post from August 19, 2013... because it's that time of year again!

You either have to live, or have lived, in the southwest (particularly New Mexico) to understand what I go through every August.

Mid- to late-July is the time of year that it sets in... withdrawals.  By that time, the previous year's supply is gone, the freezer is empty, and you're finding yourself visiting restaurants for a fix that is, somehow, never as good as what you usually have at home.  Or succumbing to the desperation that drives you to the frozen food section.

I am talking, of course, about green chile!

Some may disagree, or even become offended, by this but to us here in New Mexico, green chile is the drug of choice.  Once the chile roasters start running in early August, you'll see lines of people willing to endure scorching summer heat as they haul their burlap sacks and cardboard boxes to the front of the line to have their bright green fresh chile rendered blackened and blistered and bagged in plastic, ready to take home to their kitchens and freezers.  The bonus is that your car smells like heaven for a week or so!

Some years--like this one--there seems to be a shortage and the chile season turns into a fevered hunting season.  Facebook postings about your chile conquests and triumphs can turn your friends and family and people you trust into stalkers.  "Where did you get it?  How much do they charge?  When are they open?  Do they have plenty?  How much did YOU get???"

Sorry, Onate, THIS is what New Mexico gold really looks like!
Today I was fortunate that I had my right hand man, Paul, to help.  Last year he got shut out of the chile hunt after I scored two sacks in Ruidoso and had to buy them without warning (he usually takes the day off to help with the bagging for the freezer.)  After a friend clued us in to a place in Tularosa that had Big Jim chiles (a must for the best rellenos!), I called and ordered two 40 lb. boxes.  After picking them up and salivating the entire 15 miles from Tularosa to home, we unloaded them on the back deck and while Paul bagged two dozen per gallon-size Ziploc bag, I warmed up tortillas and kept the iced tea glass filled (usually it's Bud Light, but it was only 9:30 in the morning....)  And yes, this is HIS preferred way to bag the chiles!
So now we have a freezer loaded with 80 lbs. of New Mexico's best and it feels like we just won the lottery.  And sure enough, next July when the last bag is taken out of the freezer and the last rellenos made with the 2013 crop are enjoyed, we'll start to feel that mild desperation building into all-out withdrawals and again we'll start the hunt for the best green chiles when August rolls around.  Until then, we'll sit down to each meal made with our "New Mexico gold" and really mean it when we say, "Thank you, Lord, for this food."

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