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The state question, "red or green?" is a reference to chile preference rather than color. Responding, "Christmas," indicates a preference for both. This question is inevitable if you eat New Mexican food while in New Mexico. If you are in the state and not sampling the traditional cuisine...what is wrong with you and why are you here? Kidding. Sort of.
There is no such thing as enough chile. New Mexicans find ways to incorporate chile into breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. It is delicious and it is good for you, high in vitamins A and C.
Green chile isn't fully mature, but it is full and slightly hard when it is ready to be picked, with a thick, meaty flesh. Green chile needs to be processed quickly; roasted, eaten fresh, or frozen.
Red chile is fully ripe. It is sweeter and can be dried and stored easily. The dried chile can be flaked or ground into red chile powder. Many New Mexicans have a separate freezer specifically for their green chile supply.
The intensity of heat in peppers is measured by the Scoville scale, which was developed by pharmacist Wilbur Lincoln Scoville in 1912. Initially the Scoville scale was subjective, based on the palate of the tester, which allows for a large margin of subjective variation. For example, chile considered "spicy" by tourists is wimpy based on the perspective of a local.
Scoville's method for determining pepper potency consisted of dissolving an exact weight of dried pepper in alcohol to extract the heat components (capsinoids). The extract was then diluted in a solution of sugar water. Concentrations of the extracted capsinoids are given to a panel of five trained tasters in decreasing quantity, until a majority (at least three) can no longer detect the heat. The heat level is based on this dilution in multiples of 100 SHU (Scoville Heat Unit).
All chile is not equal. In a market where even McDonald's serves green chile on their burgers, there are huge variations in terms of quality and potency of the peppers. Often the places with the most appealing ambience have weak chile whereas the local favorites are lacking in curb appeal.
Suggestions for the chile fix pages are from locals following New Mexico Nomad online. Crowd sourcing chile recommendations.
The Albuquerque and Santa Fe Chile Fix web pages are active. Separate posts for northern and southern New Mexico will be compiled soon. Please nominate your favorites. Please include details about your favorite dish, what you love about their chile, etc.