Not sure if any of you missed me, but two weeks from my last post, I find myself in a completely different situation.
Here, I find scorpions floating in the toilet, I chase cottontail rabbits with my camera and never get close enough, a roadrunner perches on the dividing wall in the backyard, and I am surrounded by masses and masses of chiles.
I float in a cloud of air conditioning until I notice the dash says 108F outside. Water aerobics in the morning with mom and her chatting buddies almost kicks my butt but I come back a lighter shade of pale. I have a few more months to go before I can have a deep, much-to-be-envied tan that my mother has.
I am in New Mexico.
My mother bought a house here a few years ago and finally I was able to come out for a visit. Being in Las Cruces, and so close to El Paso, Texas, I feel that I am in familiar territory. I have driven from Texas to California twice and loved the drive. I am just one of those people that inherited the “driving gene.” A weekend trip to San Diego from San Francisco, by car, was fun for me. Some stretches of road in New Mexico you don’t see another sign of life other than the occasional car you pass.
New Mexico is growing. It’s becoming the new Arizona, after Arizona was the new Florida. Retirement communities abound here, and houses are reasonable and the weather is better than Florida. And who can resist a faux-Adobe house?
The weather turned a bit since I got here, which means I can still enjoy sunrises like this one without scorching my body but I haven’t seen as many sun-soaked rocky horizons as I’d like to.
The “magic” hours in New Mexico are easy to spot. The light filters in warm and golden and turns everything it shines onto into something photo-worthy. You should have seen what it did to some 3-day-old bananas!
People hang a “Ristra” of chili peppers, and sometimes garlic and blue corn on their front doors for good luck. It reminds of me of Italy quite a bit. I love chili peppers, using hot pepper chili oil on everything. I was surprised to note that the New Mexico chiles are not as spicy as the ones from Calabria. But they make a great enchilada sauce!
Hatch, New Mexico, is a tiny town of 2000 people not far from Las Cruces, and is Chile Capital of the World! There is even a Hatch Chile Festival, and I feel a kinship with them as my own hometown, Gilroy, is the Garlic Capital of the World. I may even catch the festival this year!
Little stores sell sacks of peppers and more interesting to me, big bags of powdered chiles – chipotle, green, red – I couldn’t resist picking up a few bags to take back to Italy.
Do you have favorite ways to use chiles? Do you prefer red or green?
They’re actually called Ristras.
Ms. Adventures in Italy says
@Ana – I think so often they are referred to in the plural, thus ristras is definitely correct, but I was referring to the singular, and therefore ristra! :)
Beautiful photos! I recently visited the Southwest for the first time and was blown away. A gorgeous area I plan on visiting again… Enjoy!
Beautiful photos. I had wondered why you hadn’t been blogging, called in a few times.
We love chillis, but husband prefers hotter to me.
nyc/caribbean ragazza says
108? and here I am complaining about how hot it is is in Rome. ha.
I love spicy food but have no tolerance for it. :(
I cook with the more mild peppers.
erin :: the olive notes says
looks like you’re having a great time! the photos are great.
erin :: the olive notes says
looks like you’re having a great time! the photos are wonderful…but I don’t envy the heat.
You have been missed and hope you’ll bring back lots of Hatch’s Chipolte and green chile. Sigh. How I miss good green chile once in awhile. Maybe you’ll give some away in one of your famous giveaways.
My Italian would LOVE to move to New Mexico. well actually anywhere more Southwest-y than where we are in Texas. yummy spicy food. I like chilis that don’t hit you right away but have more of an back-of-your-throat-afterburn. Are those red ones?
I love New Mexico-especially in the winter. Have a wonderful visit and eat lots of the wonderful food!
bleeding espresso says
Great to see your having as much fun with your mom as I am with mine :)
bleeding espresso says
Oh, and I prefer any chilies in pretty much everything ;)
I love chilies in Thai food.
As ever your pics are fantastic especially for me in a wet Wales….keep them coming.
Sarita Leone says
I love the photos, and can think of a lot of things to do with the chilis but…scorpions in the toilet? Oh my goodness! :)
Really gorgeous photos! My parents lived in Albuquerque for a few years. None of us kids liked it there and we called it “Albaturkey” but we did like other parts of New Mexico a lot.
Love your most recent posts.
We drove across NM in November on a Phoenix-Dallas trip and found it… well, flat. World’s largest windfarm, etc. Loads of good food along the way though. There is a Salsa Trail in Eastern Arizona and we ate great Mexican food at one of the participating restaurants.
My favorite is Chile Rellenos – can’t get enough of ’em when we’re in the Southwest, and have learned to make them at home. Oh yum. What better marriage than cheese and hot peppers?
PS – how do you get that little Copywrite sararoso on all your pics? thanks…
PPS And isn’t it odd that Italian cuisine is rather fussy about NOT mixing hot and cheese… I think.
It’s rist*r*a (in your entry, it’s “rista”).
As far as chile is concerned, we native Nuevo Mexicanos tend to go for taste–only hueros seem to care about the burn! (And, please, only touristos use “Christmas” to mean “red and green.” Just answer, “both” if you want both!)
I hope you enjoyed your visit to my home state :)
Ms. Adventures in Italy says
@Brenda – thanks for the correction! Fixed. I need to spend some time proofing instead of enjoying my vacation so much :)
I love New Mexico, too! (Which is partly why I made my Italian family tacos for 4th of July this year.) People don’t seem to understand the beauty unless they’ve been there. My mom grew up in Artesia in a little adobe house. My grandma had a pet armadillo, and more than once I saw tarantulas in her yard, but thank goodness I never saw a scorpion; they scare me to death!
Sounds like you are having a lovely summer. I look forward to reading more about it. :) ~Tui
Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says
New Mexico is one of my favorite places on Earth. The light, the chiles, the open spaces, the art… it’s one of the places I like to return to as often as possible, and each time I go, it’s different (and not just because it’s getting more built-up in some areas). You are so lucky to have a reason to go, and a home-away-from-home there.
Chile is an important part of my cooking and I make sure chiles from home always come back to Europe with me and not everyone who eats in our home is chile worthy. ;) We prefer the pueblo chiles grown in Southern Colorado to the chiles grown in Hatch. Green chile from this region of the U.S. (Southern Colorado and New Mexico) is usually roasted, peeled and frozen in the fall to last for the coming year. Since freezing is not an option for me, I roast, peel, and dehydrate it and bring it back to Europe with me. When I am ready to use it, I soak it in water the night before I cook and we are blessed with the glorious taste of home. It would not be fall in this region of the U.S. without the aroma of roasting green chile wafting through the air. I go home once a year and it is ALWAYS in the fall!
Amanda @ A Tuscan view... says
I really enjoyed this post, the photographs are really atmospheric. I would love to see New Mexico and try all those hot earthy flavours. One day…
New Mexico has something for everyone. Hiking through the desert mountains in the southern portion of the state offers gorgeous, secret springs the Apache and Cavalry used to survive their treks across the badlands. And, snow skiers delight in Ruidoso, Taos, Angel Fire, Santa Fe. And, about the cuisine, the definition of ‘hot’ varies according to which part of the state you’re visiting. I’m only an hour east of Artesia, NM, so shout-out to mentalmosaic. Love my state! I’m starting a “trip to Italy” fund with my family. We can’t wait!! It’ll be a dream come true! Thanks for the blog.
What’s a little scorpion now and then? ;-) Definitely hotter down in Cruces than ABQ and points north. At least it’s a dry heat, as we like to say. I’m a green girl…green chile on everything. But if it’s red, it must come from Chimayo.