Why Colorado and New Mexico Are Fighting a Hot War Over Green Chile
For years, these Rocky Mountain states have squared off on a spicy subject: Who grows the best chile peppers, an indispensable ingredient in southwestern cuisine? Our man hit the road to find out.
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There’s nothing like a fight in which different states and regions square off about who’s better at producing a popular food. One of the most energetic rivalries involves barbecue, pitting Tennessee (where pork is the thing) against Texas (land of beef, and brisket in particular). If you’re loyal to North Carolina or Kansas City, please know that I’m aware these places make good barbecue, too. No need to call and scream at me.
This sort of competition turns up all over the place. There’s an old episode of The West Wing in which windbag president Jed Bartlet, a former governor of New Hampshire, is appalled when he sees that Vermont maple syrup is on the menu at an upcoming official breakfast. (“New Hampshire syrup is what we serve in this White House,” he grumbles.) Outside correspondent Tim Neville, who grew up in the heart of Maryland’s blue crab country, swears that Marylanders and Virginians argue about which state’s crabs are better—something surprising to outsiders, since they both swim and crawl in the same briny waters. (Doesn’t matter. Neville’s dad insists that Maryland crabs are “fatter.”) Then there’s the ongoing scrap over the very different burritos made in Southern and Northern California.
“In the North,” Sunset magazine explained years ago, “a burrito is a foil-wrapped behemoth: a tortilla the size of a manhole cover bursting with rice, black beans, and an unending list of ingredients.… [I]t’s unrecognizable to partisans of the austere (and rice-free) parcels of refried beans and cheese found in the South. Allegiances run strong.”