One perfect day in Hatch, NM

Check out the "Chile Capital of the World" to see these little peppers being grown, dried, and served everywhere
Stephanie Pearson

Why go now: It’s harvest season for the Hatch green chile, that spicy nightshade that enlivens most New Mexican cuisine.

Claim to fame: Hatch calls itself the Chile Capital of the World, and with 18,000 acres of the fiery fruit growing in the valley around it, who are we to argue?

Dress code: Knee-high cowboy boots and Wranglers.

Backtrack: Hatch (population 1,600) was a major stop along the Santa Fe Railroad line back in 1880, three decades before New Mexico became a state.

Papa pepper: The modern New Mexican chile was first bred in 1921 by horticulturist Fabian Garcia. It helped usher in the Mexican-food craze in America.

True colors: Green or red? That’s the age-old chile debate. But really they’re one and the same: Color and heat are determined by the ripeness of the chile when picked.

High C: One fresh medium-size green chile has as much vitamin C as six oranges.

Cool down: Hatch chiles are delicate, so bring a cooler with ice to protect your take-home bounty.

Your spicy souvenir: There are plenty of roadside stands and shops in town to pick up a ristra or two of chiles, but you can’t go wrong at Hatch Chile Express. A 40-pound burlap sack full of medium-hot ‘Big Jim’ chiles will run you about $30. 657 N. Franklin St.; 575/267-3226. 

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