Vacations can be fun, relaxing and food for the soul. The one I took last week is no exception. I did a good part of my growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a very dry place, only to spend the better part of my adult life in Portland, Oregon. The contrast is striking.
Here’s a great picture of Albuquerque at night from the top of Sandia.
Here are some other photos. I regret that I don’t have many myself, as they are almost all personal and involve unwrapping presents and such.
Getting back there is always a treat. Some parts remind me of my childhood, but since my parents moved out of our southeast middle class neighborhood and into the heights near the mountain, I’ve found that I spend almost no time in the old haunts any more. I really can’t “go back home” as the saying goes. But home is where the heart, or the family, is, and so my parents new place is home enough when I’m there.
Albuquerque, for those of you who imagine that it never gets cold, is often below freezing in the winter, and does get snow every winter, although not much. It’s at 5,500 feet (over 6k at my parents place) and sits in the middle of the continent. The skiing is powdery and dry, but the ski area on Sandia, the peak over Albuquerque, is hard pressed to get enough snow to open some years.
However, this year it was quite warm in New Mexico while we were there. If you can’t have a white Christmas, why not have a warm and sunny one. There were a couple of days I decided shorts and a light sweatshirt were quite enough to run around doing errands with.
While there I also make a point of eating lots of New Mexican food drenched with green chile. No, I didn’t spell that wrong. Chili is the sauce you serve with beans and usually comes in a can con-carne. Chiles are what you call the peppers down there. The green and red chiles used in New Mexico are often used in place of other sauces in dishes. My favorite enchiladas come covered in chile instead of some enchilada sauce, and are served flat instead of rolled. Chile Rellenos are a popular dish, as is green chile stew, and huevos rancheros (eggs) are made with green chile instead of salsa.
By the way, cilantro is an herb that originated in Asia, but was imported when Europeans started coming here. New Mexicans cook dishes that have histories dating back hundreds of years, and I didn’t taste one leaf shred while I was down there. I generally disagree with putting cilantro or heavy amounts of herbs in Mexican cooking.
Sopapillas are served with most meals, as readily as rolls in American-style restaurants, and are deep fried so that they puff up instead of stay flat like Mexican Sopas (and don’t roll them in cinnamon/sugar). You tear them open, put a little honey in them and eat them after the main meal to subdue the spices from the chile. You can’t get them made that way up here, at least I don’t ever see them, so I crave them when down there.
I don’t often get down there for this, but if you are in the area in October, Albuquerque hosts the worlds largest hot air balloon festival. Since you can see most of the city from basically anywhere in the city (as a result of the geography) watching can be an anywhere-in-town experience and is fantastic to behold, although being at the launching grounds is the coolest.
I’m back in Portland now, and blogging should resume at it’s normal pace after the new year, so stay tuned.