It is a yearly ritual, one that closes out summer and ushers in fall; it's as synonymous with your beloved New Mexico as red chile ristras and open turquoises skies: chile peeling. That art of gathering, roasting and then peeling giant sackfuls of your native fruit to store for the rest of the year. Every family has their own way; every family knows that their way is the best.
For you, chile peeling is always done on a series of Fridays, when you can devote a few hours to talking, drinking beer or tea--or tequila, and peeling, always peeling the hot, charred skin off the flesh of the roasted chiles and separating them into two bowls: the broken chiles for stews and salsas, and the unblemished whole peppers for rellenos (that dish perfect in the way it stuffs your chiles with cheese, smothers them in blue corn batter, and fries them up). The waiting-to-be-peeled chile sits in sacks, cooling on your kitchen counter.
Chile peeling. Your hands tingle from the heat of the peppers long after you've stored your last bag in the freezer. The pot of beans cooks on the stove top as you work, the promise of celebratory homemade tortillas and rellenos to feast on afterward. The cool splash of a micro-brew on your tongue, the taste of your homeland. It is a mediation and an art, flooding you with memories of working with your mother in this very kitchen peeling, planning, preparing a year's worth of chile, a year's worth of countless family dinners, a year's worth of new history laid into the grooves of your lives.
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