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!


  1. When we lived in Santa Fe, I remember being asked by wait staff "green or red" and the "horrors" when we asked for whichever one on the side because "natives" just didn't do that. I grew to love a particular green chili and potato burrito at a restaurant in the area. And it was okay if the green chili was smoothered on top of the burrito :)

    Sometimes it is good to get away from the drama and go out on a holiday just the two of you. The few times we've been out on such days, we generously tip ourselves :)

    Never had sopapillas until we lived in Santa Fe, all I can say is "oh my gosh!!!!"

    I think we have been to an Arribas's down here. It was delicious!!

    Onward December!! But where in the "heck" did November go?


    1. How'd you always know just the right thing to say, Betty? Drama-free zone over here! :)

      Onward December, indeed ... Looking forward to seeing y'all!

  2. Thou art one HOT lady! Okay some of this I have never heard of. I like hot, wel maybe sorta hat, red peppers are HOT to me. Never heard of Hatch chilies, but 'just a guess of course' DEY MUST BE HOT! LOL

    Love the entry. my visits here are always fun and I leave with a smile.

    1. *Giggle*
      Actually 'Hatch' comes in varying degrees (no pun intended), from mild to 'oh-my-God!' I'm no expert, but Hatch is so much more than (my) publicized 'bang.' Good stuff ... thanks for your smiles!

  3. I like my chili mild and my peppers half hot. Sounds like you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and some really hot memories to boot. I learned my something new today thanks to you...Hatch chili, who knew?

    1. Aw, thank you!
      Ya, 'Hatch' has a reputation all its own; nice they're now on the internet in case I run out. Funny, I grew up only a few hours from Hatch, NM but never knew the lore until a few years ago.

  4. You're giving me heartburn while reading this - but you're (almost) making me homesick for the southwest (or at least southwest cooking).
    I love anything spicy - red or green chilies....Come to think of it, I miss the Mexican tradition of having tamales on Christmas Eve.

    Glad you had a nice Turkey Day - - or Salmon Day.

    1. Christmas Eve tamales sounds infinitely preferable than Tom's family's traditional supper of pierogi.

      I wouldn't want to go back, but I'm seriously checking out Hatch's various mail-order offerings. Friends who've remained in N.M. just caution me to be sure it's a grower of 'certified' Hatch.

  5. OW OW OW that is what I am thinking when I read about hot stuff. I don't even eat cracked black pepper, as in they put it on a salad I ordered and I could not eat it, they had to bring another. who knew a salad came HOT.. I have never heard the word Hatch but I have heard chili. I was raised where TG was always Turkey, dressing NOT stuffing, cranberry, rice and gravy, potato salad, heavenly salad with marshmallow, sweet potato yummy stuff with marshmallow, and pies and cakes and cookies. every single
    TG and Christmas, the same menu and NO one was allowed to miss it. and mother never cooked with spices other than salt, onions, shallots, not even garlic. she did use black pepper, the McCormick kind.

    that said, I am glad you found your hatch chili since you love it. you would hate my homemade chili, it is mild, very mild. a little chili powder but not enough to feel it on my tongue....

    1. OW OW OW ... you crack me up, girlfriend! I promise never to cook you something w/ Hatch inside.
      Like momma used to say, "Ours would be a pretty boring world if everyone liked the same thing!"

  6. Yes, I'm a fan of hot. Grew up with a Dad who had at least eight varieties of hot peppers in the garden. I cleaned a peck of hot banana peppers once without gloves. Boy, was I sorry!! Whewie!!

    1. Wow, all those varieties of peppers would certainly give one a lesson! I'm admittedly ignorant of the different genres ... but I sure envy those who can - and do - combine them into a tasty dishes.

  7. Nope not a fan of hot. I like spicy though. Just not hot! Now, Harley, my girl, loves hot! I have never seen her say something is too hot. I wonder what she would think of your Hatch chilies. Glad you had a good Thanksgiving!!

    1. Hmmm. :) I'd be reluctant to try and send Harley some, for fear of spoilage. The sort we bought was marked 'hot', but they come in differing degrees and can actually be purchased on-line. A stocking stuffer, perchance?

  8. One of my Hispanic co-workers use to make tamales and sell them during the holidays. Everybody loved them, especially my kids. Great gifts. But no matter how I asked her to tone them down for me, they were still too hot. Carrie never cooks on Thanksgiving, too much work with her little ones. The kids took Tom and I out to Mimi's Cafe. It was a treat after all these years of cooking. I don't think I've ever gone to a restaurant on Thanksgiving in my life! Tom and I just work too hard year after year!

    1. That's pretty darn thoughtful of your kids!
      My dad's position went something like, "Your mom works hard every day at the office; why should she work hard in the kitchen on a holiday?"

  9. I like it hot but not tongue burning hot. It can make me sweat but cant cause pain. ha.
    Enjoyed your fun story.

    1. Thanks! ... It's good to 'see' you, Lisa!

      I forgot to mention, unlike the rude, in-your-face jalapeno, Hatch is more subtle (sneaky) in it's delayed punch. No pain! LOL.

  10. i am fan of hot and bear criticism for it from my mother and hubby .

    enjoyed your sharing so interesting

  11. I don't know anything about Hatch chili peppers! Twenty eight years ago we couldn't buy Ro-tel her in CA. My MIL would mail it to us from Texas. I like some spice but not too hot.

  12. We like Mexican food so we enjoy chilies to. We like Hatch but love Pueblo chilies and trek home each end of summer to buy a bunch or two. That way we can have them year round. It is hard for me to go to the grocery store and look for Mexican food items on the Hispanic food aisle.Political correctness killing America.


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