Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Finding The Wildness Of Chiles In Sonora

The following is excerpted from the forthcoming book Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail, by Kurt Michael Friese, Kraig Kraft, and Gary Paul Nabhan. It appeared originally online at Edible Phoenix. Chasing Chiles will be available in early March.

When we crossed the US–Mexico border into the estado de Sonora, we could feel something different in the landscape. It was especially visible along the roadsides, a feeling that was palpable in the dusty air. Less than half an hour south of Nogales, Arizona, we began to see dozens of street vendors on the edge of the highway, hawking their wares. There were fruit stands, ceviche and fish tacos in seafood carts, tin-roofed barbacoa huts, and all sorts of garish concrete and soapstone lawn ornaments clumped together. Amid all the runof-the-mill street food and tourist kitsch, we sensed that we might just discover something truly Sonoran.

Dozens of long strings of dried crimson peppers called chiles de sarta hung from the beams of the roadside stands, ready for making moles and enchilada sauces. Hidden among them were “recycled” containers used to harbor smaller but more potent peppers: old Coronita beer bottles and the familiar curvy Coca-Cola silhouette filled with homemade pickled wild green chiltepines.  These were what we sought—little incendiary wild chiles, stuffed into old bottles like a chile Molotov cocktail and sold on the street. They signaled to us that we had come into what the likes of Graham Greene and Carlos Fuentes have described as a truly different country—the Mexican borderlands. It is as distinct from the rest of Mexico as it is from the United States, for the borderlands have their own particular food, folklore and musical traditions. This is a country where a beef frank wrapped in bacon can become a “Sonoran hot dog”—with jalapeños, refried beans, crema and fiery-hot salsa soaked into a soft-textured roll—and where ballads are sung about rebels and renegades, both those of the past like Pancho Villa and those of the present like the narcotraficantes of the Sinaloan drug cartel. It is place where preservative-laden ketchup is frowned upon, and where freshly mashed salsas are nearly as common as water. We were after the first and most curious of all the North American chile peppers, the chiltepin—the wild chile pepper of the arid subtropical sierras. It remains one of the true cultural icons of the desert borderlands, a quintessential place-based food, for it is still hand-harvested from the wild. Chiltepines are associated with human behaviors that are considered both sacred and profane. On the one hand, they are deified in an ancient Cora Indian creation story, and relied upon in Yaqui and Opata healing and purification rituals. On the other hand, they remain the favored spice in Sonoran cantinas and cathouses. Continue reading this excerpt at Edible Phoenix. Photo above left courtesy of Edible Phoenix. Learn more about Chasing Chiles in our bookstore now.


Recipe: Fast Ricotta Cheese

Making cheese at home may seem like a time and labor-intensive process, but what if you could make a delicious, high-quality cheese in about one hour? According to David Asher, author of The Art of Natural Cheesemaking, you can. This version of ricotta is made by adding acidity to sweet whey in the form of lemon […] Read More

Q&A with Pascal Baudar: The New Wildcrafted Cuisine

A Q&A with Pascal Baudar, author of The New Wildcrafted Cuisine: Exploring the Exotic Gastronomy of Local Terroir Go foraging with master forager Pascal Baudar this Spring! The School of the New American Farmstead at Sterling College presents a 2-week intensive course on Foraging and Wildcrafting. Learn to identify, process, preserve, cook, and EAT the […] Read More

RECIPE: Grilled Nopalitos for Cinco de Mayo

From The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center Cookbook Native to Mexico and prevalent throughout the Southwest and California, the prickly pear or nopal cactus, Opuntia ficus-indica, is a stunning drought-hearty landscaping plant, natural barbed-wire fence, and a source of nutritious food – both pads and fruit are edible. Inside the prickly pads lies a cooling, […] Read More

Ask the Experts: Submit Your Permaculture Questions Now

Attention all growers, food-lovers, and green-living enthusiasts, we are once again celebrating Permaculture Month by putting our pioneering permaculture authors to work for you.Chelsea Green is proud to publish and distribute some of the most recognized, and award-winning, names in permaculture, and we’re making several of them available to our readers to answer any and all […] Read More

Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation – Review in Small Farm Canada Magazine

This review was originally published in Small Farm Canada, Volume 12, Issue 5, September/October 2015If you could have only one book on mushroom production…Review by Janet WallaceTradd Cotter‘s book, Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation, is a masterpiece. I have long been interested in growing mushrooms and have read several books on the topic. This book, […] Read More
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By WPFruits.com