4 Reasons I Hate Hatch Chile Season and You Should Too
There is No Such Thing as Hatch Chiles: Ideally, the nonexistence of a thing should be the No.1 reason to not care about it, but it is well established that fact holds little water in the realm of belief, so despite the fact that I am telling you that Hatch chiles do not actually exist, you will likely continue to eat them.
Still, it must be said: Hatch chiles are merely any number of capsicum annuum cultivars grown in Hatch, New Mexico, not a specific type of pepper. Is the terroir of Hatch well-suited for growing peppers? Most definitely. Does that compensate for the fact that you are eating entirely different breeds of chile? Not really.
Importing Seasonal Food Subverts the Purpose of Seasonal Food:
Let’s crunch the numbers: Hatch Chile Fest predicates its appeal on seasonality (August 10-23), which is rooted in the bygone practice of eating food when the seasons dictate it should be eaten.
For millennia, people ate seasonally because they had to; now they do it — if they do it — for one of four reasons: To eat food at its freshest (excising transportation reduces pluck-to-mouth time); to soften their carbon footprint (again, less transportation); to support local business/community; or, to do a cute, trendy thing. Given that Hatch, New Mexico, is 634 miles away, guess which of the four it is.
You are Being Mercilessly Played: Guess what? All produce has a growing season. So yes, there’s a Hatch Chile Fest, but why is there only a Hatch Chile Fest? What about a Gala Apple Gala? A Frisee Fete? A Cantaloupe Carnival? Why did marketers decide to pimp out a phallic green pepper?
Think about it: What does Hatch chile — the actual chile — taste like? You probably don’t know. They’re rarely eaten raw, which means they’re incredibly marketable. Whereas other seasonal foods (watermelon, crawfish) can actually be consumed as is, Hatch only finds its way onto your plate through familiar forms, such as enchiladas, cheese dips, roast chickens, etc. So although you go to Central Market to buy Hatch chile, you come away with an armful of other ingredients that you’re told are necessary to enjoy the pepper. In reality, the whole thing is just an orchestrated scheme designed to get you to buy food you normally would not buy.
It is 2016: What do Hatch chile, mango chutney, blackened tilapia, Hypnotiq and Wolfgang Puck have in common? They were all trendy more than a decade ago. If you are a self-respecting connoisseur of food, someone who truly follows in the foodie footsteps of @UlteriorEpicure and heeds the dernier cri of Rene Redzepi, then please, stop buying Hatch chiles, you’re embarrassing yourself.