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Episode 18 - Hot Tales from the Land of Enchantment
Michael Swickard here. Welcome to Enchanting Stories of New Mexico sponsored by the Fresh Chile Company in Las Cruces, N M. Our award-winning Hatch Green and Red Chile is brought to you from locally owned farms in Hatch, NM, The Chile Capital of the World.
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There is an interesting story on KOB-TV news by Brianna Wilson. The headline is: New Mexico’s Green Chile Harvest Season Begins Early Due To High Temperatures.
And it is news to people in New Mexico, especially those people who are accustomed to harvesting and then Fire-Roasting their yearly supply of Green Chile about the third week of August. The harvest is a couple weeks early and it is said the reason is the very hot weather. Now this is a joke so don’t take it as gospel. The weather in New Mexico is so hot… how hot is it? The weather is so hot that the Chile being picked in the Hatch Valley Chile fields is already coming roasted. Not really but it feels like it.
In some ways that is a positive since what stops the harvesting of Chile in the Hatch Valley is when the first frost hits which seems a long ways off when it is triple digits and even the local Horned Toads are carrying canteens of water. Yes, another joke.
One of the varieties of Green Chile being harvested today is Sandia which has a hot heat taste and is very rich in Chile flavor. Also, on the other end of the harvest we are toward the very end of the Sweet Onions which have been fabulous this years. More about them in a moment.
New Mexico has a number of towns with, how shall I say, unusual names. Today let us look at Carrizozo, New Mexico. It is the County Seat of Lincoln County and a place I personally have lived in for a few years. I was the swimming pool manager for three years and owned the weekly newspaper for three years, a different three years, the Lincoln County News. But what an odd name with zozo at the end of the name. The grass in the area is Carrizo grass, a reed grass that is very good feed for cattle. Someone at some point added an extra zo to the name because it sounded good and indicated there was plenty of Carrizo grass. The town is often known to its inhabitants as Zozo.
Of course one of the most recognizable features of the Carrizozo area is the volcano which has forty miles of lava south of the town. There is the Valley of the Fire State Park which is a fun place to visit when you are in the area. How many volcanoes are there in New Mexico? Twelve, some large, some not so large. Some within the last six thousand years or so like the Carrizozo volcano and some like Sierra Blanca are twenty-eight million years old.
Twenty-one U. S. states have volcanoes and 29 do not. The state with the most volcanoes is Alaska with 104 has the most volcanoes. Six states each only have one volcano.
Carrizozo was a railroad town and cattle and sheep but now the somewhat sleepy town is more focused on art and that sort of thing. Several movies have been shot in the area and the residents have been trained to be extras in movies. They walk and act like they are talking but they do not look at the camera lens or make any sounds. And there is work painting buildings for the movies and then painting them back. But there are now art galleries and cafes.
Oh course the Last Escape of Billy th Kid Pageant and Old Lincoln Days frun from Friday, August 4th to Sunday August 6th in Historic Lincoln New Mexico. Again, lots of fun. The cool mountains of Lincoln County and lots and lots of tourist stuff to do. This pageant has been going on since the 1940s and famous painter Peter Hurd was the first person in the pageant to play Billy the Kid.
When you think of New Mexico, do you think of Ducks? Most people were not in the habit of thinking of ducks until a newspaper editor and several others in Deming came up with the Great American duck Race. This year is the 44th Annual Great American Duck Race being held Thursday August 24th through Sunday August 27th. It is the trademark of the town of Deming in these years. What can I say other than it is lots of fun and it has cool vibes and fast ducks on display. I’ll do more on the duck in another podcast.
In other August Festival News, in Alamogordo August 4th there is the Roadrunner Emporium New York Avenue Street Festival with DJ Magic of New Orleans. I have been told it is always lots and lots of fun in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
Red River’s 8750 foot three day BBQ and Music Festival is August 17th to the 19th.
Saturday August 26th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Los Alamos Nature Center is the Bear Festival. Bear like in Smokey Bear type bear. Lots of fun.
Michael Swickard here with Enchanting Stories of New Mexico sponsored by the Fresh Chile Company in Las Cruces, N M. Hit subscribe to automatically get these podcasts.
Fishing is good in New Mexico – Some lakes and streams are “Special Trout Water,” which are called “Quality Waters.” For most, only artificial flies and lures with single barbless hooks can be used. All have bag and possession restrictions. Out-of-state anglers must purchase an annual fishing license, a one-day license or a five-day license. The fishing license year is April 1- March 31. A fishing license is not required for 11-year-olds and younger. You can get a license online at the New Mexico Game and Fish website. 70 years of age or older your fishing license is free. If have a fish for dinner and use the Fresh Chile Company products to enhance it, take a picture and post it and recipe on the Fresh Chile Company Facebook page.
When people ask about fun things to do in New Mexico, one of the things I like to mention is the Sandia Peak Tramway in Albuquerque. It is 2.7 miles in length, the longest tram in the Americas and has taken over 12 million passengers in its fifty some years of service. Both of the trams are attached to the cables so that the weight of the tramcar going down helps pull the tramcar going up. There is a restaurant at the top and also hiking trails in the summer and a connection to the top of the Sandia Ski area in the winter. I have been on it dozens upon dozens of times. It took two years to construct 1964 to opening in May of 1966 and the tower in the middle could only be constructed with service from helicopters since they couldn’t construct a road so there were several thousand helicopter trips. The tram is ever so much fun. There is a road to the crest, which is a mile to the North of the Tram Café so you can drive up to the crest or just ride the Tram.
One thing is for sure: all Chile Peppers are not the same. Some have more or less taste heat than others, some taste a bit more sweet. Well now, the same is true with onions. And New Mexico State University is one of two universities that really researches the different varieties of onions. They do so for taste, ability to resist onion diseases and stuff tied to growing and harvesting the onions. So, there is a term that is used, Sweet Onions. Those are onions that are not as strong, not as pungent as other onions. Here in our area and for sale at the Fresh Chile Company are Sweet Onions that are also used in the development of Chile and Onion sauces. Have I tried this combination? Oh yes, and it is ever so great when I put it on Mashed Potatoes and also on steaks that I am grilling. Other uses of Sweet Onions I haven’t gotten to yet, but I will. About ten percent of the onions grown in our area are Sweet in nature meaning they are not as strong which is what some people like. Some people like me, that is.
Nu-Mex Sweet is a holding name for several that have high productivity, low pungency and are disease tolerant as compared to other onions. New Mexico State University researchers have been working on onions clear back to the days of Fabian Garcia in the 1920s who started many of the programs for Chile Peppers, Pecans and Onions. There are many competitors, and the onions are constantly being evaluated and adjustments made to make them the best for consumers and for use in commercial operations. Again, The Fresh Chile Company have the fresh Nu-Mex Sweet for sale and also, we are using these onions in other products such as a great onion dressing which will be released shortly. Enjoy.
Michael Swickard here with Enchanting Stories of New Mexico. What is coming with this 2023 Hatch Chile Harvest is that the Fresh Chile Company is offering a special reserve release of the Hatch Green Chile varietal Big Jim in a 16-ounce jar. Varietal means that this product will only be made with Big Jim Chile, which is very popular. In 1975, Big Jim was listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as having the largest Chile Pods, perfect for Chile Rellenos. It was developed by Chile Researcher Dr. Roy Nakayama at New Mexico State University. It is a hybrid of New Mexico Chile Peppers and a Peruvian pepper Nakayama and fellow researcher Jim Lytle combined. Big Jim is named for Jim Lytle who died unexpectedly at that time. I talked about Dr. Roy Nakayama on last Wednesday’s podcast.
One thing that happens when people live in Las Cruces or happen to be in our little slice of paradise. They can come by the Fresh Chile Company Gift Shop at 1160 El Paseo Rd, Suite D7A in Las Cruces, NM. It is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Now I need to tell you about some new products at the Fresh Chile Company that I find wonderful. There is a Local Honey with Hatch Red Chile that is great on biscuits. French fries are so much more with the Fresh Chile Company’s Hatchup which is ketchup and Hatch Red Chile. Come browse and there are many more surprises and also, there are some frozen surprises that I assure you are wonderful. Again from Monday to Saturday, the Fresh Chile Company Gift Shop at 1160 El Paseo Rd, Suite D7A in Las Cruces, NM. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
This is Michael Swickard with Enchanting Stories of New Mexico brought to you by The Fresh Chile Company. Thank you for your time today. We will have lots of News and stories about New Mexico for you on these Podcasts, If you have something or someone you want me to talk about, write to: email@example.com
Have a great rest of your day. Oh yes and eat plenty of that good Hatch Valley Chile. Like I always say, “Some Chile is good, more is better.” Bye for now.