Chowing down at Chope’s
We drive south to La Mesa to dine on green chile
at Chope’s, a favorite among cognoscenti,
in a casa converted into a palace of food.
We look at the menus but we know what’s good:
It’s September now and the green chiles are ripe,
so it’s chiles rellenos for us all tonight,
long slender pods so tender and green,
stuffed with cheese with rice and beans
a favorite on both sides of the Mexican border.
No dining here, mere guzzling’s in order.
Mas cerveza, por favor, although we’re muy relleno,
We’re fairly oozing with refritos, arroz, y queso.
How to Make Salsa de Chile Colorado
Take down a ristra of sun-dried chiles,
dark blood red, papery and peppery,
flavored by the earth in those fertile
fields by the Rio Grande, first
green and succulent, then ripening red,
strung up to dry in the hot desert air
on an adobe wall or a portal post.
Take the chiles, papery and peppery,
cover with water and simmer till soft,
Watch the pods grow soft and supple,
mysteriously swelling and filling the pan.
Drain the chiles, but save the liquid.
Wearing gloves, rub the pulp
through a sieve to take out seeds
and stubborn bits of skin.
Take the pulp, thick and dusky,
add some liquid from the pan,
some garlic, thyme and oregano.
Cook slowly, stirring, till thick,
savoring the smell of earth, air,
fire and water,
melding elemental from the pot.