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Hot Spot – Hatch

Hatch - DSCF2956.jpgAround Labor Day every year the pungent aroma of roasting green is in the air throughout the cities and towns of New Mexico.  It’s a time of year that every chile lover savors.  Nowhere is better to be that time of year then the small town of Hatch, located along Interstate 25 in the southern part of the state.  The Hatch Chile Festival celebrates the town’s acknowledged status as “Chile Capital of the World.”

Hatch - hatch_nm.gifHatch is a town of about 1600 people, many of whose lives revolve around chile.  Year-round you will find a collection of small businesses specializing in chile and other produce in various forms.  The main drag is home to a collection of chile-themed fiber glass kitsch, much of it clustered around the popular Sparky’s burger, BBQ, and espresso joint.

Following are some images of Hatch, NM — captions, when provided, precede the related image.

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Hatch is a popular stop for motorcyclistsHatch - DSCF2958.jpg

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Sparky’s is a good place for a green chile cheeseburger and a shake …

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The chile is grown in irrigated fields that surround the town of Hatch …

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Bushel burlap bags of chile are stacked up waiting to be roasted …

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Chile roasters are generally large, barrel-shaped cages on a motorized spindle — propane torches blaze through the cage as it tumbles the chile …

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image by Christopher Holden
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image by LA Co-op

The roasted chiles are bagged to carry home and use or freeze …

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image by Lisa Hanaberg

Red and green chiles come from the same plant.  The pods change color (from green to yellow to red) as they ripen.  Fresh red chiles are strung onto ristras of various lengths and are a popular decoration in the Southwest …

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Red chiles drying on a roof …

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The Hatch Chile Festival draws as many as 30,000 visitors to the town in a good year – food, entertainment, carnival rides, and chile of course …

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image by Adolfo Araiza

A prime use of green chile is as the most important layer on a green chile cheeseburger …

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image by Nan Palmero
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image by Ben Ransford

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