Enchanting Stories of New Mexico - Episode 28 - Chile, Floods, and Forgotten History

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Episode 28 - Chile, Floods, and Forgotten History

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.

Fresh Chile Company Owner Randy McMillan’s birthday was Friday so we wish him the best.And daughter Jenna’s birthday is today, Monday. Randy and wife Carol started the Fresh Chile Company because as he says, years ago we started bottling this beautiful fresh Red Chile Sauce in our home kitchen to give to friends and family for Christmas and, of course, for personal use throughout the year. Everyone loved their gift of Red Chile in a jar so much that they would call and ask for cases instead of a few more jars. We heard this from so many happy friends and family that we decided it was time to share the magic with everyone. Randy and Carol affirm, that is how and why we started The Fresh Chile Company.

The 2023 Hatch Chile Festival in Hatch New Mexico was last Friday, Saturday and yesterday. It was so very much fun. Lots of people to see and Chile related items. I have to go back to 1972 which was the first then soon to be annual Hatch Chile Festival. I was a news person back then and was there one of the days. Just sawhorses holding up plywood sheets that the products were shown on but the look in the eye of the then participants is the same as any year I have attended. You see the love of the Chile fields and Chile both Green and Red. I am starting the countdown for the 2024 Hatch Chile Festival one year from now.

One of the interesting things this year was is a documentary film being shown in the School auditorium. It was the Motion Picture Premiere of The Heart of the Hatch Valley. Last Friday evening, I hope to see more of The Heart of the Hatch Valley.

A final thought about this year’s Hatch Chile Festival. Lots of new production of Chile by many vendors including The Fresh Chile Company which I will talk about shortly. I really enjoyed having Cowboy Cook Kent Rollins at the Festival. He gave a great demonstration of Chuck Wagon cooking. I urge everyone to search for his YouTube channel, Kent Rollins and watch him make some really fine food. You can find his books. My favorite is his book: A Taste of Cowboy – Ranch recipes and tales from the trail by Kent and Shannon Rollins with photography by Shannon Keller Rollins. He has other books including Faith, Family and the Feast Cookbook along with Comfort Food the Cowboy Way.

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.

More about Chile in a moment but I was asked a historical question: isn’t September when the biggest floods hit New Mexico? Well, yes, the top ten floods are late August to the middle of September and they have washed away whole towns like San Marcial south of San Antonio New Mexico which was washed away three times, last time 1927 and they didn’t rebuild.

So Michael, what about floods this year? Now that we have reached September with hardly any rain it is safe to say that the monsoon season was a fizzle and we have not gotten hardly any rain compared to what we usually get. My friend Bob Endlich has been a meteorologist for fifty years and was on my radio talk show years ago many times. I wrote to him to ask when is the Monsoon going to hit?

He answered: short answer: The monsoon has yet to start, and this monsoon season might never really get started in the classic way, with the Subtropical Ridge (the high pressure that forms the Sun Belt) yet to reach its usual July-August position north of Santa Fe, on the NM-CO border. Charts out the next 10 days I looked at a few minutes ago don’t indicate the strong winds from the southeast which bring Gulf of Mexico moisture to New Mexico ready to begin soon. This monsoon might fizzle completely and leave us with only spotty showers, not the times with widespread gully washers that usually accompany the monsoon in southern NM. This situation seems widespread across all of the southwestern USA.

So let me tell you how we normally have flood season in Southern New Mexico. We get rain from time to time and then in a small section of time it rains slowly for several days. The ground will soak up the rain until it cannot soak up any more water and everything that falls from the sky must wash away in runoff. Then comes a downpour, several inches of rain in just a short amount of time and the runoff is much more than the water channels can handle so it goes over the sides, and we have a destructive flood.

Again, it seems we have little chance in that happening this year. Most of the floods happened in the middle of September in New Mexico’s history. Probably not his year. Like we say when watching some of our sports teams, just wait until next year. Perhaps.

Now on a Tuesday night, August 15, 2006, there was a flood in Hatch, New Mexico, the Chile Capital of the World that still is remembered for all the damage it did to the town and the residents. Almost an inch of rain fell suddenly, and the Placitas Arroyo was clogged and that prevented the water from going down the arroyo so it breached the arroyo and about a six foot wall of water rushed through the town putting many homes and business under several feet of water for a couple days.

Oddly enough it was just a year earlier that on August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina struck the Louisiana coast as a Category 3 storm. The storm did lots of damage, but the storm surge caused levees to break and massive flooding. Luckily for Hatch, this wasn’t Katrina but the damage to the community was profound. The wounds are still there for many who had to rebuild. Now the Placitas Arroyo and all of the others are routinely cleared of brush and debris so that this does not happen ever again. There were some lawsuit that ultimately got dismissed so it was insurance companies and the good people of Hatch who rebuilt apartments, houses and business buildings.

Now on this date, September 4, 1878, Lewis Wallace, Union General Lew Wallace in the Civil War was appointed Territorial Governor of New Mexico by President Rutherford B. Hayes. It was a very trying time in the history of New Mexico which had for much of thirty years tried to become a state, rather than a territory. But the violence in the state caused Washington D. C. to not want the state of New Mexico.

Lew Wallace is best known 142 years ago as the author of the historical story, Ben-Hur; A tale of the Christ which was published in 1880. Wallace arrived in Santa Fe on September 29, 1878 at a time of lawlessness and violence along with political corruption. He secretly met with Billy the Kid trying to get to the bottom of a murder of a Lincoln County lawyer named Huston Chapman. Wallace promised a pardon for Billy’s part in the Lincoln County War but never delivered it when it was needed.

What I find most interesting of the whole time of General Lew Wallace talking to Billy the Kid is that the number of books written about Billy the Kid, then and now is astounding but Lew Wallace did not write even one word about Billy the Kid. He had a couple best sellers such as Ben-Hur and a follow up novel but not one word about Billy who he spoke to and so many other writers wrote about. Strange, isn’t it?

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.

Let us talk about some new products just released. First up is Hatch Sweet Onion Dressing. 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. This Hatch Sweet Onion Dressing is so very good, words are not enough, you must try it. But there is more.

You can turn your next BBQ into a Fiesta with The Fresh Chile Company’s Hatch Tequila Lime BBQ made with 100% certified Hatch Chile. Authentic Mexican flavors of tequila & lime transform the bold flavors of Hatch Chile into a cookout favorite. Create excitement in every bite at your next backyard BBQ cookout.

But there are even more new flavors: 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 sweet and has a medium heat level. Big Jim is very popular in New Mexico restaurants & homes. You can get it just Green Chile Big Jim, a blend of Red and Green Big Jim or you can get Big Jim Enchilada Red Sauce.

There is a Local Honey with Hatch Red Chile that is great. Hatch Hot Honey - Sweet & Spicy We make this product by infusing real Sun-Dried Hatch Red Chile into 100% local (Mesilla Valley) honey from Clayshulte farms. It's the same wonderful honey you have bought from us in the past. Only now we have infused this honey with our wonderful Hatch Red Chile. This Hot Honey is thick and rich with just enough heat to make everything you put it on better!

Another product just released is our Hatch 575 Green Chile and Hatch 575 Red Chile is bold in flavor. Made with the Hatch Green and Red Chile these sauces will take your taste buds on a trail of the Southwest. Remember, Hatch, New Mexico, the Chile Capital of the world is in the 575 Area Code which is why this wonderful product is 575 Green and 575 Red Chile.

One more. Hatchup - Spicy Hatch Red Chile Ketchup which is made from sweet and spicy Red Chile Peppers from Hatch, New Mexico, The Chile Capital of the World. Enjoy this spicy ketchup on burritos, eggs, hamburgers, hot dogs, and French fries. When you want ketchup, reach for Hatchup for a flavor your mouth just cannot resist. My favorite use of Hatchup is on French fries. Yum!

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.

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: michael@freshchileco.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.

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