The word chile derives from the Nahuatl word chilli or xilli. For thousands of years the medicinal properties of the chile helped the Native Indians of Mexico. The Spanish conquistadors quickly became aware of their culinary value. They shared their discovery, taking them to Europe and the colonies in the Philippines, which then led to their popularity in Asia. The Portuguese followed by introducing different type of chiles to Africa and India.
New Mexico Chile
Fabian Garcia a horticulturist at the New Mexico State University of Agriculture and Home Economics began breeding different types of chile. By 1907 he developed a strain of chile known as the Anaheim by crossing seeds from pasilla, Colorado and negro chiles. Today, the large and fleshy Anaheim chile are the most popular type of pepper. New Mexico’s popular chile rellenos consist of the Anaheim which is then stuffed with cheese and meat.
Chile Capital of the World
New Mexico’s license plate featuring a red and green proclaims the state as the chile capital of the world! By the 1950s red and green chile became synonymous with New Mexican culture. The spicy ingredient capsicum provides the heat of the vegetable. Chile is one of the major economic driving force for the state. Today jalapeños, habaneros and other hot chiles from Mexico add to the state’s unique cuisine. The scent of roasting chile this time of year is a perennial reminder that autumn has arrived.