Misty Water Colored Memories. Of the Way We Were. Orale.

In the wake of my most recent (and fabulous) visit to my home state of New Mexico, I find I’m getting my old crone on.

New Mexico has both grown and grown up over the last twenty years. I suppose change is inevitable.

But sometimes I still lament the way it used to be.

So here’s a top of my mind list of how New Mexico used to be. This just happens to be what I’m thinking about on my first day back in California on a stormy Bay Area day.

Grumpy McGrumperson’s List of “That was my New Mexico”

  1. It rained in summer. It snowed in winter. The Rio Grande bulged with water in July. Farmers irrigated their land. Sure, it was still a desert, but water didn’t cost $300 a cubic meter. Cotton plants grew tall. Pecans grew large. It worked. Now New Mexico is in the midst of a terrifying descent into serious drought and a mismanaged water conservancy.
  2. If you went to the Balloon Fiesta, there was never, not for one moment, a thought that you’d just sit there and watch. You were expected to pitch in, even if you were a small child. “Safety” and “insurance” didn’t ever come into mind. We just helped, because getting those hot air balloons off the ground was what we did in Albuquerque.
  3. Breakfast burritos at the Balloon Fiesta were cheap, incredibly delicious, and you bought them out of a battered ice chest and didn’t think twice about it. Same with tamales at Christmas.
  4. Pinto beans were made with pork. No one ever wondered about or protested this fact. Ever.
  5. If you ate a Biscochito, you didn’t question if it was made from lard. OF COURSE it was made with lard. And no one thought that was weird, bad or worried that it would make them fat. Anything but lard was unfathomable.
  6. Luminarias used a real candle. None of this electric hogwash.
  7. If it said Hatch green chile, you knew it was actually from Hatch. It seemed strange to even question.
  8. When you looked into a bucket of ice at a bar, and pulled out a bottle, it was beer. Just beer. None of these foofy malt-based sugared up drinks. Just beer. And decent beer. What’s with the light, light, oh so lite you can breathe it like air. Just drink a damn beer! Or don’t. (this comes straight from the events of this weekend. I grabbed what I thought was a beer. It wasn’t. *sigh*)
  9. While on a two lane highway, when someone passed the other direction, you gave ’em a wave. Be it whole hand, the pointer finger, two finger Boy Scout style or whatever acknowledgement you like, you did it. And the other driver waved and smiled back. (in some places this still happens, but I got an awful lot of unreturned waves this weekend.)
  10. We didn’t call a tortilla a wrap. It was a tortilla. They weren’t made of spinich or tomato, and if mom made ’em from scratch they were thick and oh so very good.

There’s more, I think, but that’s enough of what’s bothering me today.

I suppose time marches on whether I march in step or not. New Mexico can’t stay the same forever and neither can I.

Must be the dark clouds I have, both mentally and meteorologically, that’s got me all stirred up.

Wish I could find a way to send you some of this wet weather, my Fair New Mexico.

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  • Alan

    Well, all of those are too NM-centric for me to relate to, except for #10. Wraps!? What the heck are those? It’s a tor-tee-uh!

    A “wrap” wimpifies tortillas to the extreme. Sure, there are the metro wraps filled with things like “apples and chicken” or some attempt at Thai food, but at least call it a tortilla. A wrap is something that covers a baby’s bare bum or you put over a seething, bloody wound. Maybe it ties around a woman’s waist at the beach or pool. But it IS NOT something that holds my Mex, Tex, or otherwise Southwest ingredients!

  • Ephraim F. Moya


    This is the best blog you’ve written!


    El Joyero

  • Natalie

    Right there with you on all of those things.

    It’s raining and has been most of the day/night.

    Thank you.

    • Karen Fayeth

      Nat – As you said, of course it rains for Balloon Fiesta. It’s a given.

      That said, enjoy the moist weather. It suddenly got COLD here. Not happy.

      And glad you are getting what I’m saying here on this post….. :)

  • Natalie

    (Of course… it only rains during Balloon Fiesta! *cue evil laugh*)

      • Natalie

        LOL! Great evil laugh.

        It snowed last night. Snow on the Sandias, Sangre de Cristos, Jemez mountains at 7k ft. Awakened to 32 degree weather. I’m cold but happy because someone is burning pinon. Gonna make green chile stew today… and some fresh tortillas just ’cause those are some of my favorite fall NM smells.

        You feelin’ me?

  • Ur Bro

    And lard… Make it with lard..

    And beer. Drink a real beer or if you wish a Coke, a real coke. Not light or whatever

    • Karen Fayeth

      Big Bro – It’s actually hard to find lard these days! But I have a great Mexican Grocery store and they have both lard and that really good cheese I like.

  • Mick

    In July of this year it became law that unless a chili pepper is grown IN New Mexico it cannot claim to be a New Mexico chili pepper, which apparently some cheaper pepper companies from Mexico and China were doing ( according to NPR).

    Also, last night I warmed up a tortilla with cheese in the middle…. something mom use to do when I was a kid. We use to call it simply ‘tortilla and cheese’. How they got quesadillas from that is beyond me.

    • Karen Fayeth

      Mick – I had heard something about that law. Thanks for the confirmation!!

      While at the Southern NM State Fair, I found a booth that roasts chiles right there on an open bbq. Then they take that, chop it and sprinkle over a tortilla on another grill that’s got melted asadero cheese going. They warm all that up, fold the tortilla over and hand it to you.

      I almost passed out it was so tasty. Best Fair Food EVER!!!!!

  • Anji

    I could do a similar post about the UK. We must be getting old

    • Karen Fayeth

      Anji – You and I getting old? Naaaaaaah. :)

      I’d love to read your similar post about the UK!! Fascinating!!

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