First-time visitors to Santa Fe may find themselves alternatively delighted and puzzled by the strands of red chile pepper pods seen hanging around the city. These strings of fruit (yes, fruit!) are called ristras, and they have become synonymous with Southwest culture and cuisine. Now widely used as decorations, the red chile peppers are the riper
version of the green chile peppers so widely associated with New Mexico cooking. Dried
red chiles are just as frequently used in New Mexico dishes, and both New Mexico Hatch
green chile and Chimayo red chile are prized for their distinctive flavors. When eating
out, you will often hear the question: “Red or green?” And you might ask in turn,
“Which is hotter?” The diner who orders “Christmas” is asking for both green and red
chile to be served with the same dish. Try both and get your chile on!