Is Hatch Chile a condiment?

Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon. - Doug Larson
There is one vegetable that, to me, smells just as good as bacon: Hatch Green or Red Chile. It is pure ambrosia. I like bacon but love Green Chile. But there is a problem. Some people label Hatch Valley Chile as a “condiment.”

That’s like labeling New Mexico as just another Southwestern state where the wind blows while the deer and antelope play. Near the Hatch Chile fields there are few if any antelopes. The east side of New Mexico is their playground. No other Southwestern State has the rich Chile growing fields of the Hatch Valley. New Mexico license plates proclaim: Chile Capital of the World.

If you look carefully, what you also see out and about in the Hatch growing fields are Horned Toads. Take as many pictures of them as you like, they are not shy. Bring some red ants for them and you will have made an instant friend.

Anyway, what beyond the label of “condiment” should we put on this exquisite agricultural substance that we happily combine on our food and sometimes just consider the entire meal? As I was telling my fellow storytellers at my Coffee Shop the other day, calling Chile a “condiment” is like calling an alligator a lizard. Just isn’t done.

We need to come up with a Southern New Mexico descriptor beyond just the name. Send me your vote for the correct Chile descriptor. I will keep track of the votes.

The commercial Chile industry was researched here in Southern New Mexico at New Mexico State University and this area has been found to have just the right amount of heat, water, sunlight, nutrients, and love of Chile. We cherish our home-grown delight, Chile Peppers which is scientifically, Capsicum annuum.

It is also Southern New Mexico’s Taste of Enchantment. Can we test that claim? Of course! Come to the Hatch Chile Festival 2023 September 1st through the 3rd. You will be enchanted by the smells and tastes. Enjoy the music, crafts, art, and people watching. But most of all enjoy the numerous Chile products.

There are some other festivals in New Mexico that are well worth the cost and time of attendance but nothing that stays with you the entire year like stocking up on Green and Red Chile products.

Remember, even on the warmest days where the Air Conditioning is a relief, winter will come and with the cold blast of frigid air. Then comes the great desire for Crock Pot Green Chile Stew. That is assuming you are able to get the essential ingredients for that restorative meal after a cold day working outside.

In years gone by, our diet was controlled by the availability of what we had on the table. Oranges were at one time of the year as was certain vegetables and meats. My grandmother each August canned vegetables and fruits in Mason Jars which were stored in our Ranch’s cellar. Opening a jar was a treat in winter since back then the stores did not have these fruits and vegetables to buy.

That is not so much now with a much more diverse supply chain. Still, when what you want specifically is Big Jim Medium Hot Green Chile, you must have taken steps to insure it is in your pantry awaiting your desire to blend it into tacos or hundreds of other Southwestern dishes. Big Jim has a special taste.

Better to have more Chile than you need than to need Chile and not have it.

If you have any question or comments, please don't hesitate to reach out to me, Michael Swickard, by email at Thank you for reading, and Eat More Chile!

Written by Michael Swickard, Ph.D.
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