We rode today from Hatch, NM to El Paso, TX through the flood plains of the Rio Grand River. The most memorable aspect of the ride was the beautiful acres and acres of chile farms and pecan orchards—so chiles and pecans will be the focus of today’s blog. More fodder for home schoolers ?

Hatch, a small village of about 1000, is actually the “Chile Capital of the World” and is most famous for the “New Mexico” chile—also known as the “Hatch chile”. The Hatch Valley is to chile peppers what Napa Valley is to grapes. There are different varieties of Hatch chiles—some red and some green—and most are about a third as hot as a typical jalapeño pepper though some can be quite hot. They can be eaten raw but are more commonly roasted. They are loaded with vitamin c and beta-carotene and are super immune boosters. The Hatch chile’s primary rival is the Anaheim pepper. Both start from the same seed but when the seeds of the Hatch were brought to California they were given the name Anaheim. A true connoseur can distinguish the two.

Since Hurricane Michael ravaged Georgia in 2018, New Mexico has become the nation’s leading producer of pecans, producing approximately 90 million pounds of pecans a year. The United States is the world’s largest pecan-producing country. The pecan tree is a species of hickory tree native to the southern US. Contrary to popular belief, the pecan is not truly a nut but is technically a drupe, a fruit with a single stone or pit, surrounded by a husk. The seeds can be eaten fresh or used in cooking such wonderful desserts as pecan pie or pralines.

If and when I make it to Louisiana, I promise to post my Great Aunt’s famous pecan praline recipe. Worth waiting for! Promise!

– Isabella @ El Paso, Texas