Helena Rodriguez: Chilly weather brings chili season


By Helena Rodriguez

Guest Columnist

When I was a reporter for the Abilene Reporter-News in Texas in 2000, I wrote a column lamenting how much I missed New Mexico green chili. It wasn’t the first time. A few days later, my editor came to my desk.

“Here!” She handed me a FedEx package. “And I don’t want to hear anymore whining,” she said as she walked away.

I looked at the packaging. It was from The Pink Adobe restaurant in Santa Fe.

I opened it up and there, in all that bubbled packaging, was a Styrofoam bowl wrapped inside a thermal packet. It was a bowl of green chili from my Land of Enchantment. It was my chili fix.

Now that chilly weather is upon us, that means it is chili time.

I am not talking just “chile” time, with an “e” at the end. That last vowel makes a huge difference in this word. As a matter of fact, during my second-to-the-last stint as a reporter with the Hobbs News-Sun, back when Manny Marquez was editor, in 1998 or 1999, we had a lively newsroom debate one day over “chile” vs. “chili.” It was decided in our newsroom that “chile” is the vegetable, while “chili” with an “i” at the end refers to the stew, as in green or red chili stew, when you throw in meat, papas, spices and other things.

Now that we got that straight, you know what I mean when I say it is officially chili season.

I kid you not, we got just a tiny glimpse of chill in the air during the fourth weekend of October when I looked on Facebook and saw that great minds think alike. The temperature drops 20 to 25 degrees, drastic by us desert rat standards, and we’re pulling out the blankets and firing up the stove. Like anxious football fans without a life, we’re blasting on Facebook the kickoff of caldo season.

I got this crazy idea to make posole after my friend, Diana Zamora Salinas, posted a yummy photo. Posole-making is usually Mom and Dad’s job on New Year’s Eve. I had never made it before.  I made it though, with some pointer from my son-in-law, Nino. By the way, my first posole got rave reviews.

No sooner had I proudly posted my posole photo on Facebook when I realized I was not alone. My friend, Josie DeLeon, posted her hearty stew with jalapeño and bacon cornbread. And Josie’s sister-in-law, Ashley Rodriguez, posted a photo of her “chili bowl,” which she served with jalapeño cornbread. Oh, and my friend Kathy Aranda Rangel and her husband cooked asado outside.

We desert rats just need an excuse to chill with some chili when the weather turns muy chilly.

Helena Rodriguez is a Portales native. Contact her at: Helena-Rodriguez@hotmail.com

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