Sunday, November 27, 2016

Some like it hot .....

Oh m'gosh, it's really over.  
Poor November.  The 'tween month.  In merchants' rush to promote Christmas immediately post-Halloween, I wonder if Thanksgiving doesn't feel like the fabled red-headed step-child. 

Still, I've enjoyed reading about each of your observances!

Some long-time readers may recall, I've no memories of traditional Thanksgiving feasts.   Instead, my parents - who worked three jobs between them - seized the opportunity each November to travel over the mountains and through the woods to a nice hotel in Denver.   I can still hear my father musing, "THIS year I think I'm going to be thankful for ______."   (Steak?  Lobster? ... something he'd get to enjoy just once each year.) 

Bless DH's heart!   It feels I've come full circle!
Due to unfortunate circumstances with his adult offspring, he agreed to forgo tradition and eat "out" ... someplace where we could order prime rib (him) and salmon (me) ... and enjoy a 'real' conversation without me trying to talk over his stupid headphones.  I always feel a bit sorry for the wait staff; in fact, by 8:00 our server confessed she was 'exhausted.' (Yes, I make a point to over-tip those who work on holidays.)

So, what's this business about liking it hot?  
Well, I'm particularly thankful this year for our bounty of Hatch Chile sitting in the freezer.

Funny about coming full-circle.  Growing up in New Mexico, chili was a staple.  Each autumn when the Hatch crop came to fruition, my father would agree to 'split' a bushel with a co-worker. Poor mother had the tedious job of roasting, blistering and peeling those pungent pieces of Heaven.   Working in rubber gloves to avoid blistering her own skin, she'd carefully package the meat in freezer bags -- hopefully to last until the next September.    

I took it for granted.  That is, until it wasn't available.  In Texas, then in Florida ... even in Arizona just a decade ago, I'd mention 'Hatch" and be met with blank stares.   
"No", they'd say.  "Our green chili's not hot."   


In the 50's and 60's, I still remember folks in New Mexico chuckling at tourists' choice of green sauce v. the red because they believed it was milder.
Until a few years ago, there existed an unremarkable little store-front restaurant   .... that boasted the most remarkable fare, punctuated by their liberal use Hatch chilies. 
No matter if you were a physicist or a security guard, The Rio Grande Cafe was THE place to take out-of-town friends and family.   

(Warning:  "Potty humor" ahead.   
Some may wish to skip the next paragraph.)   

A steaming basket of sopapillas and vial of honey accompanied each dinner ... but so did an innocuous bowl of sherbet.    I'm unsure of it was truth or fiction, but my father never tired of telling the story of the Yankee and his family who visited the Rio Grande Cafe:   At the end of their meal the husband excused himself to use the men's room .... but when he hadn't returned in a reasonable time, his wife grew concerned and asked her son to 'go check.'   
"Yep, Dad's in there all right.", the young man confirmed.  "But he just keeps moaning, 'Come on sherbet, come on!'"


Ya, ya.  OK.
So I was more than a little delighted when, a couple of years ago, a restaurant opened not far from us, their commercial jingle boasting, "Hatch chilies make it hot!"  In short order, Arribas became a favorite. and even DH is growing accustom to its particular sting.

When they began roasting their crop a couple of months ago we both jumped at the chance to purchase a couple of pounds.   We've enjoyed putting them in our weekend 'everything' omelets, and yesterday before the Big Game I added a handful to my slow-cooker bean dip.   (Oy, oy!   Should've made that a 'pinch'!)

In an attempt to explain its charm, I asked my friends in the Los Alamos FB group, "How, in a few words, would you describe Hatch chili?"  Gosh, but the responses came flooding in!  These are a few of my favorites:

"A cross between gasoline and napalm."

"how 'bout: I died and went to Heaven?"

"My brother grows his own green chilies on his ranch outside Albuquerque. It's actually a multi- tasking green chili. He eats green chili sandwiches while stripping paint with them."


So, that's my gastronomical holiday tale of Thanksgiving.
S'true, you can't go home again ... but your taste buds can visit!

Are you a fan of 'hot'?
If you ever happen this direction, we'd love to invite you to lunch!

Hugs from Phoenix!