Hidden History: The Great New Mexican Food Debate

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If you ask a local, “who makes the best New Mexican cuisine”, you better have some time to kill.

Throughout the state, it’s not a question taken lightly.  New Mexican cuisine is serious business for foodies, from Las Cruces to Raton.

Part of what makes the discussion so contentious is the sense of pride natives feel for their food.  David Ruiz, executive chef of the Pueblo Harvest Café at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, has an outsider’s take on the matter.  “You do it so well, it’s the one thing besides ‘Breaking Bad’ that you’re known for.”

The state considers itself the “Green Chile Capital of the World” –a title our neighbors to the north in Pueblo, Colorado have tried for years to steal.  But you ask any New Mexican, they’ll tell you nothing competes with the red or green from Hatch, New Mexico.

New Mexico’s geographical location is also fundamental to its unique cuisine.  The marriage of Spanish ingredients like chicken, pork, milk and eggs with Native ingredients like corn, beans and squash create the foundation for our most famous dishes.  Add in that unmistakable chile with what executive chef Jonathan Perno from Los Poblanos calls “Rio Grande Cuisine”, and you have a feast of flavors that continues to challenge and titillate the most sophisticated of palates.

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