Too Much Is Never Enough Cooking

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate. - Julia Child

My first culinary job was sifting flour in my Grandmother’s kitchen. I was young and wanted to help her bake one of her wonderful Rhubarb Pies. It was not a difficult task, and it was always a bit messy. I was part of the cooking team, and you could always tell that I was until after bath time later that night.

The cooking team included my father, Staff Sergeant George Swickard, who served in Italy during the Second World War. He fell in love with Italian cooking. While he didn’t cook often, his food smelled fabulous, but it was inedible to the rest of the family since he was a “Too much spice is never enough,” type of cook.

My mother would gently repeat to him as he started to gather up all the ingredients that we, his culinary audience, liked Italian food but felt he put “Too darn much spice “in his cooking. He would smile indulgently and say that this time he was going to follow the recipe exactly.

And he really did mean to do it right while cooking by not adding too much and too many spices, but in the heat of the moment, he simply could not resist putting a dab more and then a dab more and then, you guessed it, some more as he cooked. He ate his food happily and we quietly made something else.

One relative described his Italian food as being goofy like a recipe that was all cut up with a few pieces missing. It always cause unusual expressions when friends and neighbors attempted to eat his Unique Rigatoni a la George.

I see the same problem with some cooks who love Hatch Valley Chile, be it Green or Red. The amount of Chile used seems to increase when no one else is watching. They are modern day, “Too much is never enough Chile” cooks. I know questioning having too much Hatch Valley Chile does not seem possible. That is like having too many books.

But there can be a touch too much Chile even for people like myself who consider Red and Green Hatch Valley Chile as important as coffee and water. Likewise, along with people who put Chile on everything including Jell-O, there are the cooks that like the food they are cooking to be hotter than hot. They are afraid that they will somehow create a dish that just isn’t taste hot enough. They seem to feel that they will lose the respect of their family if the food doesn’t scorch several layers off someone’s tongue.

Horace Porter wrote: Be moderate in everything, including moderation. A nugget of wisdom to use when cooking with Hatch Valley Green Chile. I am often asked, “What should I do when the Chile is too hot? Well, I have two responses. First, there are dairy products that turn a three-alarm fire in the mouth to just a bit of smoke out the ears. Better is I stop eating when my system tells me that there is Chile that has a heat taste far above my comfort level. Just put the fork down.

There is no dishonor in deciding that the capsaicin in some Chile is beyond the comfort level of my palate. It is always good for a chuckle when I see the contests where people are consuming lava heat Chile to see if they can tolerate it for some period of time. Each to their own enjoyment. Me, another serving of Hatch Chile please.

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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