DENVER — The talk leading up to the Super Bowl has been all about Seattle vs. Denver. But a new challenger appeared this week, looking for a piece of the Mile High City.
The state of New Mexico is taking issue with a Super Bowl bet between Denver mayor Michael Hancock and Seattle mayor Ed Murray, in which Hancock wagered handmade skis, a hoodie and a sampling of Denver’s “amazing green chile,” the Associated Press reported.
“We are the chile state,” Katie Goetz, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, told the AP.
Many New Mexicans have taken to social media to tout their state’s relationship with the Southwestern dish (more accurately called chile sauce) and scorn Denver’s less-traditional recipe. Colorado versions generally tend to be soupier and milder.
“The flavor of New Mexico green chile is just unique, and nobody else can even come close to delivering that kind of flavor,” Jaye Hawkins of the New Mexico Chile Association told the AP. “I’m assuming that’s what the folks in Colorado love about it.”
Late Thursday, the Pueblo chamber of commerce entered the fray, challenging the state of New Mexico to a “green chile throwdown” to prove that their chiles are just as good as anything grown in New Mexico.
“While we acknowledge that New Mexico grows many varieties of chile and has developed a very impressive distribution system, they are not the only area that grows chiles,” said Rod Slyhoff, president of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce. “The Pueblo Chile is meatier which allows it to roast better than the Hatch Chile, this creates more flavor and reduces water; making the Pueblo Chile much more desirable for cooking and eating.”
Pueblo hosts an annual Chile and Frijoles Festival in September.
While New Mexico is known for its chile (both the spicy sauce and the pepper itself), claiming a patent on the modern version of the dish is a bold move.
“The mixture of meat, beans, peppers, and herbs was known to the Incas, Aztecs, and Mayan Indians long before Columbus and the conquistadores,” according to the website of the International Chili Society. “Fact: Chile peppers were used in Cervantes’s Spain and show up in great ancient cuisines of China, India, Indonesia, Italy, the Caribbean, France, and the Arab states.”
But New Mexico could make a strong case for earliest chile sauce in the future United States, ICS writes.
“Don Juan de Onate entered what is now New Mexico in 1598 and brought with him the green chile pepper, the group says. “It has grown there for the nearly four hundred years since.”
Southwestern cuisine enthusiasts might even debate the differences between “chile” and “chili.”
In any case, the state of New Mexico has come up with a solution that should make everyone happy: Officials are sending their brand of chile sauce to leaders in both Denver and Seattle.