It’s official. Many Chileheads out there already knew it, but the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM is now an Official Tourist Destination, having been named so by Rand McNally. The numero uno road atlas in the US has dubbed the Institute a “must see” destination” in their 2010 Road Atlas Best of the Road Program.
When I moved to Albuquerque in 1978 I was introduced to “Chile”, (commonly spelled chili in the southwest). Most of the country didn’t enjoy hot foods like the people in New Mexico did, and the nation’s notion of chile was what we now call “Texas Chile”, which is a pot of beans with veggies, meat and some spices. But now there are more kinds of salsa than there are feathers on a hen, more varieties of peppers than anyone could ever imagine and everyone knows about chile.
The popularity of chile – one of our Official State Vegetables – has a lot to do with NM State University and their collaboration with the Chile Pepper Institute, where more varieties of peppers, (capsicum), have been grown, researched, and developed than anywhere else in the world.
The founders of the Institute in 1992 were Dr. Paul Bosland and Albuquerque’s Pope of Peppers, Dave DeWitt. Dave is a chile expert, (to say the least of it), and the author of many books about chile peppers. Dave hosts an incredible event every year in Albuquerque called the Fiery Foods and Barbecue Show, and like the Institute itself, it is a Mecca for Chiliheads everywhere, (and you KNOW who you are! See a video presentation of this “Hot Show” on New Mexicast. Next year, (2010), it happens on March 5-7 – so if you are a Chilehead you had better mark your calendar now and make your travel plans. You can do both in one weekend trip. Come for the show on one or two days, and then take a day trip to Las Cruces to visit the Chile Pepper Institute. The drive looks long, but there and back can be done in a day, in fact – I have driven it in two 1/2 hours! (The speed limit IS 75mph, you know). Better plan on three. I have created a Google Map to get you from here to there.
I know the best things to do in Albuquerque!
Sarah Dolk, Adobe Nido Bed & Breakfast
Expert on Destination Albuquerque and Central New Mexico!