Red or Green?
It’s the perennial local foodie query, the reason why Christmas is celebrated in Santa Fe year-round and our state question: Red or green?
SFR asked some of FUZE.SW’s movers and shakers to finally settle the debate based on their personal taste and experience. The overwhelming response might surprise you.
Cheryl Jamison, James Beard Foundation award-winning author
Red at The Shed and Café Pasqual’s. Green pretty much everywhere else—and on anything.
Camella Padilla, author of The Chile Chronicles: Tales of a New Mexico Harvest
Red. I love green, too, but when it comes to comfort food, I crave smooth and very spicy New Mexico-grown red chile. Red chile enchiladas. Red chile frito pies. Red chile by the bowl-full, or over Thanksgiving, mashed potatoes. Red chile with pork (not ground beef) simmered on the stove until its smoky-sweet heat permeates the kitchen. Why? Probably because that’s the way my mother makes it, and the way my father eats it, as hot as he can take it. Just as red chile is the mature form of the green chile plant, red tastes like a pungent, poignant, full-flavored memory of the seasons of my New Mexico family.
Tom C’de Baca, nephew of fabled NM cookbook author Fabiola Cabeza de Baca
Well, I gotta say red. My Mom grew up in a small town—Puerto De Luna—along the Pecos River known for its red chile. It’s the best in my biased opinion.
Juan Estevan Arellano, journalist, writer and researcher
For me, ‘Red or Green’ is a marketing strategy aimed at tourists. In the summer I prefer green; especially freshly harvested and roasted, peeled, with garlic and salt, and made by hand. In the fall and winter, I prefer red with pork. Of course, a good green chile caldo in the winter is great, with either frozen homegrown green chile or dried green chile. I never eat green chile from restaurants. Sometimes in restaurants you find good red chile but not green—most [of it] looks like gravy.
Dave DeWitt, food historian
Red. Red chile has the true complexities of flavor of a dried, ripe fruit, which it is; think of the intensities of flavors in sun-dried tomatoes and dried, sliced, mangoes but with heat—a food and a spice combined.
James Campbell Caruso, chef of SFR Restaurant of the Year, La Boca
Well, to me, when you say ‘chile’ in New Mexico, you’re talking about red. Red is year-round, whereas green is a seasonal harvest sort of thing. Flavor wise, they’re both great. I can’t decide—it’s like picking between a grape and a raisin…what’s your favorite?
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SFR cover art by Erin Currier