ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — “It’s on!”
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she’s ready for a culinary duel with her neighbors to the north after the governor of Colorado proclaimed on social media that chiles grown in his state are the best and will be stocked in grocery stores across four Western states.
Gov. Jared Polis fueled the fiery debate when he said stores in Lujan Grisham’s state would be supplied with inferior chiles from New Mexico.
“If Colorado wants to go chile to chile, no question that New Mexico can bring the heat — Hatch chile is, has always been and will always be the greatest in the world,” Lujan Grisham proclaimed in a tweet.
New Mexico’s chile peppers have woven their way into the state’s cultural identity over centuries, and their distinct flavor has been adopted more recently by palates as far away as Korea.
The state in 2014 even adopted its own trademark and certification program to protect the reputation and integrity of its signature crop.
New Mexico’s chile experts contend there’s no mistaking its hot peppers, and researchers at New Mexico State University say soil conditions, warmer temperatures, the right amount of water and a longer growing season result in a unique flavor.
In the valleys of southern Colorado, chiles have been grown for more than a century, with the elevation and shifts in weather affecting how the peppers taste. Some say they’re hotter than New Mexico’s varieties.
In 2015, officials in Pueblo County received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture so farmers could form a growers association to better promote their peppers. Since then, Whole Foods opted to go with Pueblo chile for its stores in Colorado and elsewhere in the Rocky Mountain region.
Battles like this between states are not uncommon. Tourism promoters in Arizona and Vermont skirmished in 2013 over which state’s fall colors were more impressive.
On Thursday, Lujan Grisham tweeted a photo of a cheesy plate of enchiladas, aiming to set the chile record straight.
“Eat your heart out!” she said.