New Mexican cuisine not just green chile

Ryn Gargulinski

Real New Mexicans don’t eat green chile quiche, someone recently told me.

After thanking the person for the insightful information, I pointed out I never asked in the first place.

But it did get me to thinking what real New Mexicans do eat.
When I lived in the Land of Enchantment, I ended up eating the same thing I ate in Brooklyn, N.Y, which is the same thing I ate in Troy, Mich., which continues to be the same thing I eat in Crescent City, Calif.

Yes, I’m one of those people who have fallen into a food rut, with the same type lunch in my lunch box every day since 1984. This way I don’t have to waste precious time wondering what’s for lunch.

And I thought my grandma had odd eating habits when she put ketchup on everything from salad to salmon.

The only time I’ll sway off my regular dining course is when the food begins to give me hives, like the time I ate chicken sandwiches for two weeks straight in 1987.

What I’ve found at diners is pretty much the same thing at diners across the United States.

This includes chunky omelets, clunky BLTs and the infamous open-faced turkey with the mushy bread underneath. There’s a place in Idaho that actually manufactures that bread. Don’t be fooled — the bread does not get soggy from lounging beneath the ooze of turkey gravy; it actually comes that way, soggily specific for the open-faced sandwich.

The New Mexico diners also have this weird thing called “Texas toast,” which sounds like a hunk of bread braided with hearty slabs of beef. To my amazement, I saw they were simply talking about challah, a fluffy, white bakery delicacy most popular in New York’s Jewish delis.

I didn’t find a lot of them in New Mexico, nor did I run across many sushi joints, Chicago-style pizza parlors or anything fresh from the ocean.

The “catch of the day” meant neither cod nor herring, but usually ended up being the steer that wandered closest to the hatchet.

I haven’t seen a real bagel in more than a year.

What I did find in New Mexico, however, were chiles on nearly everything. Well, maybe not on the French toast that was really Texas toast that was really challah bread, but it came as a sidedish to the chicken, a main dish part of the omelet and even nestled between the turkey and the soggy bread from Idaho.

What I also recall was paying $500 for fresh-picked vegetables. Of course, we made this cheaper by growing our own. This was much more economical at $499, after adding up the cost of seeds, hose, hoe, hippopotamus-shaped sprinkler, water bill, Miracle Gro and a set of stainless steel meat cleavers to hack through the hard dirt earth in which to plant the stuff.

And we never got around to growing green chiles.

Ryn Gargulinski writes for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. Contact her at:

Don McAlavy’s column will return next week.