The Chile Chronicles

Tales of a New Mexico Harvest (Museum of New Mexico Press)



New Mexico is the largest producer of chile in the United States. "The Chile Chronicles" begins by exploring this iconic crop’s rich, dramatic history.

Tracing the chile from its South American origins through its emergence as a symbol of New Mexico, Jack Parsons and author Carmella Padilla (winners, respectively, of the 2006 and 2009 New Mexico Governor’s Awards for Excellence and Achievement in the Arts) take us up to modern chile production, preparation and politics.

Over four chile seasons, its creators tracked production all across the state of New Mexico. Their research, oral histories and luscious, sensitive visuals expose chile’s lynchpin role as an anchor of Hispanic culture. In the words of writer Stanley Crawford's introduction, chile is a key to the singularity of the region, a prime reason this part of north America has "resisted or deflected or transformed the cultural flood tide of Anglo-European culture".

From family histories through daily farming traditions, from the science of breeding ever-better chile to the truths behind its supposed medicinal value, the book draws an indelible portrait filled with social pungency. Just like its subject, "The Chile Chronicles" exudes taste, texture, color and, more than anything, culture.

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