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

Hanging peppers

Hatch is famous for its chile peppers.

Photo by Jen Judge

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Hatch Chile festival

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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