Flying into fabulous Las Vegas, was the start of a trip everyone was excited about. Following afternoons at the pool and nights at the blackjack table, we made our 20 hours journey to Hatch, New Mexico for the Hatch chili festival.
The smell as we drove into the small town of Hatch was amazing; the chili roasting had spread its own flavor over the town. The festival started off with a chili parade through the main street followed by the coronation of the chili queen at the festival side.
Expecting a much bigger event, we came to realize that the festival is more like a small town American country fair but with its own special charm. The town as well as the region mainly depends on the cultivation and production of chiles. ‘Red or Green?’ is the main question asked in that area. Not as spicy as we expected, the red and green chilis are mainly roasted and can be eaten with almost everything you can imagine.
We had the chance to talk to the major of Hatch, Mr. Nordyke, and his wife Mrs. Nordyke, who organizes the festival. We found out the procedure of how to become the chile queen, which is pretty much like a beauty pageant, and lived mainly on watermelon juice, quesadillas (with chili of course) , and turkey leg for two days.
Pretty exhausted from the heat and the dusty festival, we took off to get some real expertise from the chiliman himself – Dr. Bosland at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.
The demonstration garden of the Chili Pepper Institute was really amazing as it pretty much includes all the chili varieties you can think off. Dr. Bosland gave us an in depth overview of the origins and spreading of chili, the chemical components, and its measurements.
It was time to hit the road back to Las Vegas to have a couple more days of relaxation before we had to fly straight to the next chili festival: The peperoncino festival in Diamante, Italy.