Red or green? Visitors to the Land of Enchantment will undoubtedly encounter this dilemma. As one of the most frequently asked questions in New Mexico, only three answers suffice, red, green or Christmas. This simple inquiry has even been certified as New Mexico's official question by the state legislature. What the heck are we talking about? Little edibles that pack a powerful punch-chile peppers.
As the State's #1 cash crop, 60% of all chile peppers consumed in the U.S. are grown in New Mexico. The booming popularity of salsa in the American diet has helped to double production since the early 1980's. In fact, salsa surpassed ketchup as the #1 condiment in the U.S. in the mid 90's and New Mexico annually ships as much as 100,000 tons of these green and red fire sticks.
Despite differences in taste (red tends to be sweeter), both shades grow on the same plant. The rosy chile is simply a ripe green pepper plucked later in time. While both hues can vary in spiciness, some greens can be hotter than reds and vice versa, each draws its heat from the same source, capsaicin. In true Darwinian fashion, this fiery chemical evolved in the pepper's center and membrane to protect it from hungry predators. Over time the seeds absorb capsaicin making the little pods blaze with spice as well.
Low in fat and high in vitamins A and C, chile peppers are more than spicy additions to a southwestern meal. From the ancient Mayans to present day Hawaiians, capsaicin is recognized for its healing properties and is widely used to treat illnesses such as arthritis, asthma, swollen feet, blood clots and heart attacks.
So, red or green with your entrée? You make the call. And those indecisive travelers who answer, "Christmas," will receive a mix of both.
Because hotels are spread across this sprawling city, we have listed recommendations for three popular business districts: Downtown, North (5 miles N of Downtown along I-25), and Near Northeast (3 miles east along I-40).