Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | September 15, 2010

Holy Chile

It’s not just the places you see when you travel that make the day special – it’s often the people who cross your path – who add spice to your travels, so to speak. Today was just such a day.

We decided to take a day off from rehearsing for our show at Los Ojos on Friday, and travel north to visit Taos Pueblo, and then take the High Road to Taos back to our campground, traveling through the mountains of the Carson National Forest on a spectacularly scenic road.

Small towns dotted the landscape, and the mountain vista was covered by countless tall, green pines. We stopped in the town of Chimayo, to visit the Santuario de Chimayo, an historic shrine believed, by many, to be a miraculous site.

While walking back to our truck, we came upon the courtyard of an old adobe compound. A sign which read “Holy Chile” was posted on one wall. Curious, we stepped inside, and were greeted by Carlitos Medina, the proprietor of the Holy Chile stand, thus named for its proximity to the Santuario.

The pungent scent of chiles wafted through the air, and immediately, Carlitos began to explain the uses and different flavors of the green and red powders and ground chile concoctions displayed on the table before us.

While explaining, Carlitos prepared the chiles for us to sample. It was an interesting process involving placing small amounts of the different powders and grinds into our mouths, along with pistachios as “chasers”, to cleanse our palates in between samples.

Each of the chiles had a subtly different flavor, and all were delightful – full bodied and hot, for sure, (they are chiles after all) – but not painful, as in hot just for the sake of hot.

Carlitos was an interesting character who offered a bit of philosophy with his chile vending, and we chatted a while, before parting ways, after making our selections.

This unexpected meeting certainly spiced up an already lovely day, and we decided to treat ourselves to dinner at Rancho de Chimayo, which is just down the road from the Santuario.

We dined on superb Mexican cuisine, washed down by well-mixed margaritas, in a tastefully restored 100 year-old villa, before returning to the High Road and heading “home”, which at present is the Stagecoach Stop RV Park in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

Tomorrow we spend the day rehearsing for our show on Friday, but will no doubt do some experimental cooking with our newly acquired assortment of chiles!

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