Originally Posted by cacto
No one on this thread has really explained what is New Mexican food and how it's different from Mexican. I'm a an Arizonan and every time I hear about NM food I wonder why not call it Arizonan food because there is no difference as far as I can see. And don't say it's the green and red chili because that's everywhere.
I'm reminiscing here, folks.
Original, traditional, "New Mexican" food
is corn, beans, and squash, the "three sisters." Chile was likely contributed by the Spanish settlers, as was wheat, which altered the native American fare drastically. For awhile, growing up, we found that the best "New Mexican" food was found in the pueblos up north, and in the Tigua Indian pueblo down near El Paso, because natives hang on to their traditional foods.
Phaseolus acutifolius - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
What is Blue Corn?
Three Sisters Garden: Corn, Beans, Squash - A Native American tradition
Wheat flour added the empanada, the sopaipilla, and bunuelos. Baking powder created what is considered the "thick" tortilla, not used in Mexico. Sopaipillas were simply wheat tortillas fried in deep fat. When I think of the New Mexican foods my two grandmothers (born in the late 1880's) used to make, it's got to be empanadas filled with minced meat and piñon nuts that grew wild in northern New Mexico. New Mexicans, in those days before restaurants were common, served a blue corn porridge called chaquéhue (cha-keh-weh) or atóle (ah-to-leh), its thinner version. I fondly recall the bowl of blue mush, with red chile sauce floating on top, the colors of the landscape, like the red, yellow and blue corn grown in the northern climes. In those days the favorite chile was from Chimayo and Embudo, smaller, tastier, and less hot than the chile grown in Hatch today. Families from all over the state would travel there every fall to get their year's supply of chiles, then strung them together to dry in a rístra (rees-trah). Red chile, by the way, is dried green chile.
Ristra - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
has become a generic term. But there are differences, depending on which state is closest to the U.S border. The following observations are strictly from my point of view.
California transplants obviously miss the fish and seafood based Mexican foods from Baja California, a peninsula surrounded by the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean. Avocado is a tropical fruit, originating in central Mexico and not native to New Mexico. It thrives on the west coast. Growing up in New Mexico I ate my first avocado at the home of a family from Mexico.
Avocado - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Arizona food, especially near the border, is Sonoran style, utilizing nopales (cacti) and other desert plants like atún (prickly pear). They use strong flavorings like chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, and limes to complement their simple dishes. Their tortillas are large thin circles of wheat. Avocados are plentiful. When I lived near the San Luis Rio Colorado area, bordering California and Arizona, a favorite Mexican food included potato tacos nothing at all like what the posters above say is used in New Mexico in the newcomer breakfast burrito. A filling of mashed potatoes and cheese, rolled up in corn tortillas and served with a light tomato sauce, limes, and cabbage, was a very tasty and economical dish.
Mexican border towns like El Paso serve economical Mexican foods, too, originating in Chihuahua. Plain rice becomes a milky drink called horchata, and cornmeal combines with chocolate to make a delicious drink called champurrado. These drinks are Spanish in origin.
Champurrado - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Horchata - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
So, New Mexican food is native American--corn, beans and squash--and chile and wheat coming later with the Spanish settlers.