Texas Travelogue and what I now know about Hatch…
Last week, I spent three days in the Lone Star State. My host was Central Market, a state of the art natural foods supermarket that houses cooking schools in each of its seven stores. Wouldn’t it be great, if every grocery store in America had kitchens where people could gather to learn to cook or strengthen their culinary skills? Besides hosting guest chefs, cookbook authors and restaurateurs, Central Market has their own culinary staff of culinary school grads or ex-kitchen cooks who opted to work in a less chaotic atmosphere. In addition to being the helpful support staff for the visiting instructor, these talented foodies teach weekly classes. Each school has on-going offerings of various food themed classes. Participants get to learn about a particular cooking topic, such as creating homemade ice creams, perfecting pie crusts, how to stuff tamales, the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, and the class list goes on. I was booked during the annual Hatch Chile festival. I got to promote my new cookbook, Vegan Family Meals, Real Food For Everyone while incorporating these versatile chiles into the following menu:
A Trio of Soups Shots:
Black-Eyed Pea and Red Pepper Soup
Yucatán Yam Picante
Southwestern Salad with Chipotle Ranch Dressing and Agave-Chili Tortilla Strips
Double-Corn Jalapeño-Hatch Corn Bread w/ Scallion Butter
Peaches and Nectarines with Sweet Almond-Cashew Cream
I admit I didn’t know a whole lot about Hatch Chiles before I arrived in Dallas. By the time I left, I was well educated and loving these fiery green chile peppers just like every other Texan does. These particular chiles hail from Hatch, New Mexico, home to the “World’s Best Chile Pepper” at least according to the BBC World News. This Labor Day weekend, thirty thousand people will attend the 40th Hatch Valley Chile Festival. For two-days these chile lovers will taste chile recipes and some lucky person will be crowned the festival queen! Walking the aisles of Central Market, there was Hatch everything; from potato chips to relish, salsa, dips, even chocolate chips cookies and cupcakes. For all I know, there was a Hatch infused perfume or Hatch laced pet food, wet or dry just to cover the bases.
Some, just for their love of Hatch chiles attended my classes, though most came to learn how to incorporate more vegetarian and vegan dishes into their repertoire. Two out of my three classes were sold out. Fort Worth is nicknamed, “Cowtown” and my class was packed with fifty eager people who were hungry for more health-minded, yes, vegan options in their local restaurants and on their own home menu.