ALBUQUERQUE, NM ( Associated Press) — The sweet aroma of green chiles roasting over a live flame permeates New Mexico each fall, wafting along streets and from grocery store parking lots, inspiring enticing visions.
Now, a state lawmaker says it’s time for everyone to enjoy the smell of chili.
Senator Bill Soules’ visit to fifth-grade students in his southern district sparked conversations about delicious chili peppers and New Mexico has the potential to be the first state in the nation to proudly have an official state smell, a proposal now before legislators. are taken into account .
“It’s very unique to our state,” Soules said of the roasted peppers. “I’m trying to think of another state that has a smell or scent that is distinctive across the state and I can’t think of one.”
For New Mexicans, chile is more than an ingredient in every meal. this is life. This official state question, “Red or Green?” Is in the center of, and is one of the official state vegetables.
In 2021, New Mexico produced more than 60% of the US chili crop and is home to Hatch, a farming town known as the chili capital of the world for the distinctive red and green chilies produced for generations. Is. The famous crop is also used in powders and sauces that are shipped around the world.
A bill recognizing roasted peppers as an official odor passed through its first committee on Tuesday, and supporters say it’s unlikely to spark further debate, asking lawmakers to share their own story. Beyond how they can’t pass by the Red Chilli Latte without eating it. Breakfast Burritos and Chili-Marinated Tamales.
“Chile is in the heart and on the plates of all New Mexicans, and the smell of freshly roasted green chiles allows us to conjure up the memory of eating or enjoying our beloved signature crop.” Executive Director of the New Mexico Chili Association We like to call that memory a person’s ‘chile story,’ as Travis Day said, and as New Mexicans each of us has a chile story.
Officially acknowledging the scent may also pay off as another way of marketing New Mexico for tourism.
A legislative analysis of the proposed law indicates that the high tourist season typically begins in March and subsides by the end of October, meaning it coincides with roasted pepper season. The analysis also noted that New Mexico has a lower rate of visitation than neighboring Colorado, which reported 84.2 million visitors in 2021, compared to about 40 million in New Mexico.
“The smell of the new state may help attract visitors to Colorado who, for whatever reason, think it has greener peppers than New Mexico,” the analysis suggested as a nod to the rivalry between the two states. teased as
Soules, a former teacher and elementary school principal, has used the Smell Bill to teach fifth graders about the legislative process. The students are researching state symbols in New Mexico and elsewhere as part of their preparation to testify on behalf of the bill.
“They’re learning how to lobby, how to write letters to legislators to support this bill, they’re practicing their public speaking,” Soules said. “They’re learning a lot of other things around it as a subject as part of their curriculum, so it’s a good education too.”