One of the positive developments of the widening of the obsession with Hatch chile peppers is their availability to the normal, non-obsessed people via per-pound sales at normal markets. Such was the case when I stopped in for condoms and children's cough medicine (those purchases are COMPLETELY unrelated, incidentally) at the Albertsons on Jeffrey Rd.
Imagine my surprise, then, to see Hatch chiles for sale for $1.29--and a "Produce of Mexico" tag next to them.
Hatch chiles have to come from the valley in which Hatch, N.M. is located; naming rights don't extend into Mexico. Hatch chiles are ONLY from the U.S. state of New Mexico. While we don't have a Denomination of Origin system here in the United States, those are the rules, just like Vidalia onions and Idaho potatoes. So I asked.
"Well, it's from New Mexico, right?"
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"Yes. That would not be part of Mexico. So did they come from Mexico or New Mexico?"
The produce manager didn't know. They looked like Hatch chiles, smelled like Hatch chiles, but are we facing a Hatch chile knock-off, a cheap import made possible by NAFTA?
In any case, they'd obviously been out for several days and were wrinkled and gross; you've got exactly one more weekend of Hatch chile sales--accept no imitations or elderly vegetation!