Dreaming of a New Mexico Farmers Market and Home(s)

Years ago, when I first heard my mom was moving out of my childhood home and out of California, while I was living over in Italy, I was pretty devastated. My hometown had slowly emptied of friends’ parents and other reasons to stop by other than the outlets in the years since I had left (at age 17), and I knew without my parents living there, I would rarely make the trip down to drive by my old high school or the school where I learned how to write the alphabet. Am I the only one who gets melancholy when they drive by their old schools, doubly so when school is out and they are abandoned?

Luckily I got a chance to say goodbye to my childhood home when I came back a few months before the final move to help pack up some of my things before they actually sold it. I know I’ll always consider California home. Or one of my homes. It will always feel like coming home when I touch down there. And though my old hometown is evolving so quickly I can no longer date a new stoplight or neighborhood, there are some memories that can never be erased from its landscape.

But I now know that my home also follows my parents, wherever they live. Touching down in El Paso to visit my mother feels like coming home, and the short drive over the state border to New Mexico reminds me of the short drive from San Jose to Gilroy (the nearest airport to my hometown). All in all, not many things have changed.

New Mexico Farmers Market - Hot chiles

I love the dryness and desert part of New Mexico. I love the wide-open spaces that I saw on several cross-country trips from Texas to California (back in the 90s, yo!), and the miles of horizon and the sun rising on those red clay cliffs can be breathtaking. I love visiting some of the Indian reservations like the pueblos in Taos and Acoma / Sky City (pictures to come), and the White Sands national monument has its charm as well. If you’re a fan of the TV show Breaking Bad, you’re getting some great New Mexico scenery sprinkled in with the, erm, very-involved unsavory plot line.

But that’s not all New Mexico is. Of course there are the people. One of my favorite ways to get a sense of the locals and their food is to head to a farmers market (I always stop at the Ferry Marketplace farmers market in SF, if only for the chilaquiles).

The colors, sights, and smells in this New Mexico farmers market did not disappoint. Now as the sky is turning a depressing gray here in Milan, I’ll be revisiting these colors and memories often to keep my head sunny even if it’s not outside.

As I was pulling together these pictures, it struck me how much in common all my “homes” (California, Italy, New Mexico) have with each other – vivid colors, open-air food markets, and lots of character. I realized that the common denominator is really me and it’s I who emphasize these commonalities among them.

How about your home(s)?

New Mexico Farmers Market

{Grapes and cherry tomatoes, an old woman selling potions, a gourd basket, a cactus blooming}

New Mexico Farmers Market

{Tiny cactus I wanted to take home, hand-worked leather gun holsters, hundreds of different kinds of jam, drying chili peppers}

New Mexico Farmers Market

{Yucca cactus flower pod wreath, the local church, kilos of watermelon, and more dried chiles}


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  1. says

    Love this! My first and forever home is New Mexico! Albuquerque, to be exact, but I went to college in Las Cruces (close to El Paso!). The cool thing is that I now live in Italy and see similarities between here and there allllllll the time. It’s actually one of the things that made the transition to living out here much easier. If only Italy had New Mexican food :) Luckily I can make it myself. Great post! I’ll be back there a month from today!

  2. Lorraine says

    I love farmers markets! — and seek them out wherever I go. Love SF … most memorable in the past five years was one in Killaloe, County Clare, Ireland. Small but wonderful because although we were staying in the town for a week I hadn’t known it would be there … walked into the village for a coffee and voila!

  3. Ms. Adventures in Italy says

    @Jessica – Mexican food. sigh. There is none to be had, even if a few restaurants in Milan want you to believe so…

    This post is actually about Las Cruces! That church is in Mesilla. :)

  4. says

    New Mexico is a very special place; we were lucky to call it home for 20 years and still consider it our real “home state” even if we didn’t grow up there. We also see similarities between northern NM and our landscapes here in Basilicata. Luckily, my cousin just brought me jars of precious sauces from Rancho de Chimayo and a nice stash of Hatch green chile! :)

  5. says

    Great post and gorgeous pictures. I dread my parents moving house away from the village I’m so profoundly attached to. And I also get very sentimental driving past my old school; I feel it’s so strange that it still exists without me… I now live 4000 miles away from where I grew up and I’m trying to embrace this new ‘home’… But I’m finding the concept of multiple homes a hard one to swallow – I think I’m monog-home-ous or something :-)

  6. says

    We too stop in NM on our way to visit family in Phoenix. In addition to a first night in las cruces, we make sure to stop in Hatch for a bag of fresh Big Jim chiles, as well as packets of them already roasted – plus this time, some dehydrated chiles! It’s always a good stop!

  7. says

    I enjoyed this post and all of the comments – loving the food in my new home (Florence) but I sighed as I read this with thoughts of the smell of roasting green chile! If you’ve never been to the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque in October, it is beyond “must see”. Funny, until now I thought I was the only new mexico to italy transplant!

    • Ms. Adventures in Italy says

      @Hope I’d love to go to that some year :) Look at all the NM natives come out of the woodwork onto this post! hehe.

  8. laura98 says

    Love the comparison of New Mexico and Italy and the idea that it’s “you” that ties them together. Me too. At least one week in Northern New Mexico every summer for me (as a child) has now translated into at least one week in Italy every year I can manage it . The food is wonderful in both places–but actually good food can be found now in much less popularly likely places, such as Cleveland (fab food and local markets and farms). I look forward to reading more about Italy through your eyes.

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