Hatch Chile season is a big deal at my house. We go a little crazy for these New Mexican treasures and eat them in, well, everything. The season is so short—late July to maybe early October–that if you miss the Hatch Chile peppers at the end of summer, you’ve missed them for another year. Seinfeld fans, remember the Mackinaw Peaches? We never let that happen, even if we buy more than we can eat in one season. We will freeze them, can them, or even dry them rather than waste even one shiny green jewel of a pepper. It’s worth the work to preserve them because like all things we can’t get year-round, we crave them in the off season.
Which brings me to an unpleasant point—if you find them advertised “fresh” in the off season you aren’t buying Hatch Chiles, you’re likely buying a cousin (Anaheim peppers and the like) not cultivated in the Hatch Valley during the Hatch growing season. Not that those aren’t lovely too, but buyer beware. We all know there’s nothing like the real thing. Truth be told, I love all New Mexico chiles but the Hatch variety lands right in my eat-in-everything sweet spot. Don’t mistake my little metaphor to mean the peppers are sweet; exactly the opposite. My palate finds them bright, citrusy, with a medium heat.
Hatches typically fall anywhere in the yellow range, although the zing can vary from crop to crop and pepper to pepper. My tolerance for spicy heat seems to be going up as time goes by. Ever since I gave up sugar my yum zone is sour-spicy-salty. Habanero is my breaking point. I’ve gone has high as that Jolokia business but I do not recommend it. My belly immediately tried to send them back before the burn even abated. I managed to keep them down but there were hallucinations. They haunt me to this day, which I guess might be why they call them ghost peppers.
So my love affair with all things Hatch aside, their appearance in my kitchen this year has inspired me to learn more about eating seasonally in general. Which is pointing me toward a heightened interest in the seasonal cycles of all things related to wellness. Eating with the seasons is only one aspect of natural health. Our immunity, endocrine systems, and psychological health all have natural seasonal rhythms that we’ve learned to override with technology, culture, and lifestyle.
Athletes and workaholics are among the top naysayers when it comes denying our bodies their biological needs to cycle through their natural rhythms. We are wired, programmed, and engineered to function optimally in cycles, but we’ve decided it’s more important to function the way we decide rather than the way we are designed. We declare our goals more important than our wellness even if those goals are fitness-oriented. Some of us still manage to maintain high levels of wellness nonetheless but I confess I’m curious to know how much better it could be if wellness was allowed to flourish the old-fashioned way. Once again I’ve created a crap-ton of more work for myself, at least in terms of research. I know just enough on this topic to be aware of what I don’t know, which is a lot.
I can blame the Hatch Chile peppers but truthfully they’ve probably fanned the flame of my existing interest. I’ve been dabbling for a long time—Ayurveda, energy cycles, biotic factors, farm to table, etc. Perhaps this Hatch Chile season is the one to push me out of the dabbling phase and into a deeper learning phase. Our style of living (lifestyle) either supports wellness or hinders wellness. It makes complete sense to me that a lifestyle that embraces natural life cycles would serve me better than a lifestyle to which I’ve simply adjusted (especially if that adjustment was made out of convenience or cultural/social conformity). So this is me stirring the pot again—that stew of Why We Do What We Do, with a side of Why Do We Try To Outsmart Nature, seasoned liberally with Hatch Chiles.
This is also a heads up that there will undoubtedly be more to come on this topic. Once the Hatch season is over I’ll need to transfer my obsession du jour to something else. Perhaps I’ll restructure my notion of the holiday season to match growing seasons, like all our ancestors did before the Crusaders told them it was witchcraft. Extrapolating further, maybe that’s what witchcraft really was/is after all–the cultivation of a deeply informed and mindful wellness practice that functions in harmony with Nature. Gasp! Which means everyone was once a witch and the ones who were executed were the hold-outs. The non-conformists. The Hell No crowd who refused to give up their practice for processed wellness. Gasp! Could it really have been that simple? Did Grandma not get run over by a reindeer? Was it was mass hysteria?
New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment. The birthplace of my seasonal muse. Coincidence? Or is coincidence (just a decaffeinated word for magic spell? While I get busy with these and other sass-rockin’ inquiries, I’d like to kick off the new and improved holiday season (which is to say, the old and ideal holiday season) that now coincides with the harvest of Hatch Chiles with a little music tribute. You know them as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, from their album Blood Sugar Sex Magik.
I’d also like everyone to notice Flea’s hair flower. Ahem. Another “coincidence” afoot? Or a Hatch Season hatchling of interconnection? You decide.