Here's all you need to know in order to make it in New Mexico: You have to love chile. New Mexicans are far, far too gracious to threaten to kick you out of the state, but they will stare at you as if you're insane when you ask for your breakfast burrito with no chile. They'll wonder if you're an alien in Albuquerque via Roswell when you respond to the state question, (“Red or green?”) with: “What's the difference?” They might even get seriously peeved when you say you just don't understand what the big deal is. Here's the thing, if you've just moved here from Minneapolis, we'll understand if you don't know a green chile from a bell pepper and we'll only tease you mildly when you break out in an all-over body sweat and tears stream from your eyes. Just remember: You'll get used to it sooner or later.
All the News That's Fit to Eat
Eee, it's time for chiles, no?! Yes, it is that time of year when motorists cut across three lanes of oncoming traffic to pull to a screeching halt in front of some guy parked in a dirt lot with a truck and a roaster. Southern New Mexico's chile harvest usually begins around the end of July but according to Dr. Paul Bosland, a horticulture professor and director of the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University, the middle of the season is the perfect time to buy chiles. Early season fruits tend to be thin-walled and less flavorful, he says. These immature chiles often have less flavor than the thicker, heavier pods of midseason fruit.
Chewing the Fat
Chile Pepper Primer
The Chile Pepper Institute answers your most frequently asked questions
Are fish able to feel the heat from chiles?
No, fish do not have the pain receptors (like birds), that mammals have allowing them to feel the heat. Many species of fish, like koi and other colorful fish, are feed food with chile in it to keep their colors bright.
What is a "New Mexico Green Chile?"
What to Tip
The Alibi's small but gratuitous guide
This is just a guide, not a set of hard and fast rules. Use your best judgment.
Ye Olde Sit-down Restaurants. The federal minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13 per hour—not much. Standard tip for seated fare is 15 to 20 percent of the total bill, but you should feel free to tip more if the service is exceptional. If you have a problem with the food or the service, don't wait until your meal is over to show your dissatisfaction by stiffing the waiter. Instead, ask to speak with a manager or owner and give the restaurant the opportunity to make you happy before you leave. If you feel your server is fully responsible for your unpleasant experience and you've spoken with the management, then your tip (or lack thereof) can reflect your displeasure.
U-Pick Green Chiles and Farmers' Market
Whether you’re more familiar with the French Riviera or the French Quarter, there are plenty of places in Albuquerque to get a taste of authentic French cuisine. Read Hosho McCreesh’s review of Le Quiche Parisienne in this issue, and check out these other restaurants in the city that will cater to your wanderlust and make you feel, if only for the evening, that you’re dining in the City of Lights. Bon appetit, mes amis.