Thursday, July 05, 2007

Red or Green?

Until last summer, I had no idea there was such a thing as New Mexican cuisine. Not Mexican food, not Tex-Mex, but New Mexican cuisine.

The distinguishing characteristic of New Mexican cuisine is chili. Here's how it works. You basically take any southwestern dish you know and love (for example, tacos) and slather it with chili. Just a few minutes ago, in fact, I downed a "Blue Corn Enchilada Plate" at Los Cuates, which may just be the best New Mexican restaurant of them all. It certainly is one of our all-time favorite places to eat...anywhere.

Here's how the menu describes the dish that's now in my belly: "Two flat enchiladas layered with cheese and onion on blue corn tortillas, served with refried beans and Spanish rice. Topped with melted cheddar cheese and your choice of red or green chili. Includes two sopaipillas and honey." So good I think I'll need one more plateful before we head out of Albuquerque!

When I ordered the dish, the waitress asked me the most ubiquitous question in all of New Mexico: "Red or Green?" You see, the chili comes in two colors, with two very different tastes. For my money, the right answer is always green. But, hey, that's just me. (Salsa Verde is always in my shopping cart when we go to Trader Joe's.) Plus, the salsa they put on the table (with tortillas) when you sit down is red, so I figure I get the best of both New Mexican worlds in one sitting!



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