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red chile fields

As the temperatures begin dropping and the mornings become brisk, we know that autumn has definitely arrived in Mesilla, New Mexico. And with the changes in temperature, we start looking forward to Thanksgiving, when our families travel back to the Valley and gather for a feast, giving thanks for all of the blessings we’ve enjoyed over the past year. One of those blessings is the fall harvest that begins early September and extends all the way into November.

The result of the harvest is usually seen on the table during the Thanksgiving meal.  Many of the dishes served reflect the food we grow and the traditions we enjoy here in Southern New Mexico.

One of the harvest vegetables that many of us love is yellow squash, which we began picking in the summer through late fall. These have been a staple for the native communities of New Mexico for centuries including the Spaniards when they began arriving. We most often use them in a dish called Calabacitas, which combines garlic, tomatoes, corn, chile and cheese into a stew like side-dish.

Another favorite is fall corn. Once again, this is an example of a vegetable grown by the original settlers of the southwest for the past few hundred years then consumed by all of the newcomers. Corn in the Valley is used in a variety of ways. We grind it down and use it to make our corn tortillas, which then get turned into tacos, enchiladas and tostadas. Corn is also the main ingredient in the masa (the dough) in tamales. Hominy is used in our posole.  Corn is also used in the Calabacitas with yellow squash as well.

Of course, we couldn’t talk about our fall harvest without mentioning chile! While green chile is picked from late August through October, some is left on the vines to ripen and turn red in the sun. This chile has a sweet taste that is reflective of the elements that make it, the rich dark soil of the Rio Grande Valley, and the warm sun of the fall afternoons. We take this chile, dried by the time it reaches most of us, rehydrate it, and then blend it into a delicious red chile sauce. The sauce is then used as the base for a number of our traditional dishes, like carne asada, red enchiladas and red chile posole. But of course, many of us use this as a “gravy” for our Thanksgiving meal!

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There’s a really good chance that if you attend a traditional Thanksgiving feast here in Mesilla, you’ll see all of these on the table. Bowls of Calabacitas, red chile, and corn (or corn on the cob) will sit prominently next to many of the other traditional Thanksgiving dishes, like mashed potatoes or green bean casserole. If you’re looking to add to your own feast, remember that we sell many items in bulk, like our tostadas, salsa, and even red chile sauce. With any of these, you’ll add the delightful taste of the Mesilla Valley to any feast!

So from our family to yours we hope that this November is truly wonderful for you. We hope you have the chance to gather with your loved ones and remember all of the blessings you’ve enjoyed over the year. May you and your family have a Happy Thanksgiving!