Red Chile Bible by Kathleen Hansel and Audrey Jenkins

Cover of Red Chile Bible by Kathleen Hansel and Audrey Jenkins

I’ll tell you what. I made “the last entry”: so short because I knew I had this one to make, and I was worried they’d sound rather similar. So I saved most of the good stuff for the second post.

Why? Well, that gets into “the good stuff”. Let’s start with the basics.

Go into any New Mexican restaurant that serves New Mexican (or some will say Mexican) food and you will hear the state question: “Red or green?” It is my impression that “green” wins most of the time, but if you overheard Bill and I with my parents, you’d hear them say, “Red”, Bill say, “Christmas” and me say, “Can I get both on the side, please?”

I know my order sounds a lot like “Christmas, on the side” but it is a little different. When Bill’s ordering, he’s ordering his meal covered in both chiles at once. When I’m ordering, I am very distinctly looking to try each separately. I find that I tend to prefer red about 70% of the time1 (as a wild guess). So even though green chile is the heart of New Mexico, and most folks seem to vastly prefer it, red chile has a special place in my heart.

Green chile, though, also occupies a pretty special place in my heart, though it’s much more emotional in nature.

Growing up, I despised chile. Mostly, I didn’t like the heat2, but even when we found extremely mild chile to eat, I still wasn’t a fan. The flavor was just not what I was looking for. So while my parents ate red chile smothered burritos, and my sister devoured the green chile covered burritos, I ate plain ones. For years, plain ones. My family, the lot of them, made jokes about changlings and needing DNA tests and not being a native New Mexican and so on to indicate how unlike them I was regarding food3.

Then I moved 2200 miles away, to Washington D.C. I was stupendously homesick. That got better, but it still hit me from time to time. About a year later, I visited home again. During chile season.

Chile season in New Mexico is beyond words. The entire state smells like roasting green chile. Green chile is being sold everywhere from the big name supermarket to the tiny mom’n’pop shop to trucks by the side of the road. There are giant cylindrical roasters outside of most (all, maybe) of these places, roasting chile like mad. For about a month or so, the whole place is in a state of true chile mania.

I bought a bushel of green chile for myself, my ex-husband and one of our friends. We took that bushel to our friend’s house, and with him, Angelique and her husband, we roasted that bushel in middle of nowhere Maryland (well, as much “middle of nowhere” as Maryland has). I made chiles rellenos. They were delicious, and perfect the first time4. It was a gorgeous day, and smelled perfect.

But I still like red chile more.

Number of recipes in this book: 122 (Estimated)
Number we’ve made: 1

You can click the “red chile bible” tag below to see all the recipes we’ve made from this book.

fn1. Except with scrambled eggs. Somehow, green chile and scrambled eggs are the world’s most perfect combination of foods.

fn2. Yes, I still don’t much like the heat of spicy foods. However, I like it a lot more than I did.

fn3. If you’re getting the sense from this blog that I grew up in a family who kind of thought I was a mutant regarding food, you’re getting the correct sense. If you’re getting the sense from this blog that I grew up to be a much less picky eater than I was as a kid, you’re getting the correct sense. If you’re getting the sense from the blog that my family still thinks I’m kind of a mutant regarding food, well, you’re getting the correct sense.

fn4. Chiles rellenos are difficult, and I’ve never known a totally novice cook to take them on before. It wasn’t smart of me. I lucked out, though and they were great. I’ve never been successful since.