Do you have a New Mexican in your life? Do they have less freezer space than you because it’s mostly filled with green chiles? Do they get cagey and dart their eyes around any time they smell a hint of roasted peppers? Have they ever tried to order a green chile cheeseburger at McDonald’s? Don’t worry, it’s not just your New Mexican, it’s all of us.
New Mexican food is a tricky thing to understand if you didn’t grow up with it or adopt it as your own. It’s not really Mexican, it’s certainly not Tex-Mex and living and eating in New Mexico comes with its own set of quirks that you can’t find anywhere else in the country. If you’ve ever pulled over on the highway to buy beef jerky or accidentally rubbed green chile juice in your eye, here are 25 things you’ll probably understand pretty well.
UNSUPPORTED TYPE: placement
Mexican ≠ New Mexican ≠ Tex Mex
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/nieve44/3608804861/sizes/l/" target="_blank">Flickr: Nieve44/Luz</a>
New Mexican food is its own, special animal. It lives somewhere between traditional Mexican food and Tex Mex food, in a place where there is a lot more cheese.
You know the difference between 'chili' and 'chile.'
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vxla/6144610363/sizes/l/" target="_blank">Flickr: vxla</a>
Chili is a stew with meat and beans. Chile is a vegetable (technically a fruit, but you know what we mean). Chile can be turned into chili, but not vice versa.
Shredded iceberg lettuce and tomato are compulsory garnishes.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/kirinqueen/1046646690/sizes/o/" target="_blank">Flickr: kirinqueen</a>
Accept no substitutes.
Sopapillas can be eaten for any meal.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/greg_holland/3491407008/sizes/o/" target="_blank">Flickr: fj40troutbum</a>
Stuffed with eggs, they're breakfast. Stuffed with meat and covered in chile, they're lunch and dinner. Smothered in honey, they're dessert. Served with butter, they're a bread-basket.
Biscochitos are THE Christmas cookie.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/megoizzy/6559570831/sizes/l/" target="_blank">Flickr: megoizzy</a>
No deliberation required.
"Red or Green?" is basically like "Sophie's Choice."
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/9575673@N08/2146636455/sizes/l/" target="_blank">Flickr: Jim Legans, Jr</a>
It may be our state question, but please don't make us choose. (Also, should someone tell Bueno that they definitely don't need to advertise in NM anymore?)
Christmas isn't just a holiday, it's a food preference.
Can't decide? Red AND green, baby.
The smell of any roasting chile anywhere makes you think of late August/early September.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/larry1732/2828703441/sizes/z/" target="_blank">Flickr: Larry1732</a>
Also going back to school and the State Fair.
Salsa verde is not green chile.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/greg_holland/3491406918/sizes/o/" target="_blank">Flickr: fj40troutbum</a>
Neither are jalapeños, poblanos or green sauce.
You should never eat a whole Frontier cinnamon roll by yourself.
But you probably have.
You're sick? I'll make green chile stew.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/3240641656/sizes/o/" target="_blank">Flickr: stevendepolo</a>
You're sad? I'll make green chile stew. You're celebrating? I'll make green chile stew.
All pizza places should offer green chile as a topping.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tamasrepus/4247551848/sizes/l/" target="_blank">Flickr: uıɐɾ ʞ ʇɐɯɐs</a>
Because it is irrefutably the best pizza topping of all time.
You've felt the agony of forgetting to wear gloves when you peel roasted chiles.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/awalker/3893749863/sizes/l/" target="_blank">Flickr: ultramega</a>
Chemical burns are REAL, guys.
You can eat anything on a tortilla.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jakub_hlavaty/3395803340/sizes/z/" target="_blank">Flickr: jakub_hla</a>
Burgers, PB&J, melted cheese, chocolate sauce -- anything goes.
The best beef jerky is purchased on the side of the road.
Or in a designated beef jerky store.
Carne adovada burritos are breakfast food.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/puuikibeach/10917087456/sizes/c/" target="_blank">Flickr: puuikibeach</a>
And they shouldn't take more than three minutes to eat.
Even though they're made of food, ristras are DECORATIVE, yo.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/kerinin/77361616/sizes/z/" target="_blank">Flickr: kerinin</a>
They are probably still edible, but there are definitely spiders living in them, right?
If you put a fried egg on enchiladas, that makes them breakfast.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/kthread/4874712438/sizes/l/" target="_blank">Flickr: kthread</a>
It's a simple equation.
If someone tries to sell you a breakfast burrito/tamales from a cooler or trunk, YOU BUY THEM.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/nmarritz/3912565468/sizes/l/" target="_blank">Flickr: nmarritz</a>
That is just where breakfast burritos and tamales come from.
A McDonald's Green Chile Cheeseburger is a last resort, but it's there when you need it.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/puuikibeach/10973830886/sizes/c/" target="_blank">Flickr: puuikibeach</a>
Someone asked me, "Is it better than a regular McDonald's cheeseburger?" And I said, "Yeah, there's green chile on it."
Piñon nuts > sunflower seeds.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vanillacube/178258221/sizes/l/" target="_blank">Flickr: Zwedlana</a>
Sorry, it's science.
RIP Bobcat Bite
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomaspix/1231097859/sizes/o/" target="_blank">Flickr: thomas pix</a>
We'll miss your beautiful view, your old-as-hell cast iron griddle and your green chile hiding under the cheese. (This green chile cheeseburger has been called the best burger in America. That is correct. The good news is, they've re-opened as Santa Fe Bite
closer to downtown!)
When in doubt: combo plate.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/drbeachvacation/6153477538/sizes/l/" target="_blank">Flickr: ShashiBellamkonda</a>
Sometimes you need a taco, an enchilada and a tamale. New Mexico is here for you, bro.
You love authentic Mexican tacos even more than the next guy.
But secretly, every once in a while, this is all you want.
Green chile is hotter than red chile. Don't get it twisted.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/fwonkas/951731167/sizes/o/" target="_blank">Flickr: fwonkas</a>
Trust us on this one. Or don't. See what happens.