White Dog sat next to me, nose high in the air. It is that perfect time of year here in Albuquerque and all of the doors and windows are open. The temperatures are ideal and there is usually a gentle breeze. On that gentle breeze is carried one of WD and my favorite smells...roasting green chiles.
Chiles are a staple of life here in the Southwest and this time of year...when the harvests are brought to town...hundreds of little stands appear in parking lots, in front of groceries and vegetable stands, sometimes on the side of the road. There you can purchase fresh green chiles from a pound to a fifty pound sack.
Most purchasers have their chiles roasted so that they can be peeled and "put up" in the freezer to provide the yummy tingle until next year's harvest. The stands all have huge wire mesh drums the size of a bbq grill that turn over lines of flame jets and roast the peels of the chiles as they turn and tumble over the heat.
There is a fine art to roasting chiles. Hot fast heat to blister the skin but the right amount of turning so that the actual flesh of the fruit does not get cooked. Then the process must be stopped by plunging into water or dumping on ice.
The smell of this happening over and over at nearly every major intersection cloaks the city with the wonderful heady smell of chiles roasting. It is a sure sign of three things: summer is nearly over, State Fair is upon us, and the International Balloon Fiesta is just around the corner. It is one of the unusual ways we mark time here.
Back home the skin is pulled off (some also seed the whole chiles) and they are packaged into the freezer. Of course, a few special ones are left out...would could peel and bag fifty pounds of chiles without developing a craving for chilis rellanos or green chile chicken stew or cheese enchiladas? The White Dog Army's favorite...green cheese AND chicken enchiladas.
White Dog looked at me and raised an eyebrow. "WELL?" was her question, "Shouldn't we be heading out to get some of those fresh chiles before it is too late?"