Fall has arrived in New Mexico. Temperatures dropped into the thirties the last couple of nights, but no hard freeze-yet. Days are warm with clear blue skies and the chamisa is at its prettiest, full of golden flowers. Small patches of yellow are starting to appear up high in the cottonwoods.
Several weeks ago the green chile harvest began to trickle into Santa Fe. Vendors haul burlap bags full of the New Mexico state vegetable (actually we have two, the honor is shared with the pinto bean) in from fields near Hatch and Socorro. The air fills with the scent of roasting chiles and you can choose–mild, medium, or hot–at the temporary stands that pop up in the parking lots of restaurants, grocery stores, and strip shopping centers all over town.
I never get around to buying my yearly supply until mid-September, trying to delay the end of summer as long as possible. But it was time last week. I paid the $25 for a roasted bushel at Jackalope without comparison shopping. Another potential customer moved on when he heard the price.
The chiles sat in a cooler in my kitchen for a couple of days before I got around to the bagging. At my house we don’t eat too many at once so it takes a lot of sandwich bags, each filled with a few chiles before they are loaded into the wire drawer at the bottom of the freezer, more than enough to get us through the winter and probably all the way through until next chile season. We eat them with everything, not just tacos and enchiladas, but in macaroni and cheese, tuna salad, and mixed with garlic on top of grilled steaks.
After living in New Mexico for sixteen years, I still remember a woman I met at a shop in Albuquerque shortly after I moved here. She told me she could never leave the state; she would miss the sunshine and green chile too much.