The Chile Habit

DaveBlast from the Past, Chile PeppersLeave a Comment

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charles_fletcher_lummisCharles Fletcher Lummis, at left, almost always attired in his trademark well-worn, dark green, Spanish-style corduroy suit, soiled sombrero, and red Navajo sash, was one of the most famous and colorful personalities of his day as a book author, magazine editor, archaeologist, preserver of Spanish missions, advisor to President Theodore Roosevelt and a crusader for civil rights for Native Americans, Hispanics and other minority groups. In 1890, while traveling near Albuquerque, he was given a sample of chile colorado, what we would call chili con carne today. He was totally burned out, but liked the flavor, so he had more. Later, in his book A Tramp Across the Continent, Lummis wrote, “The chile ‘habit’ is a curious thing. Simply agonizing at first taste, the fiery mess soon conquers such an affection as is never won by the milder viands, which are sooner liked and sooner forgotten. I never missed and longed for any other food as I did for chile when I got back to civilization.”

I have edited together a collection of early stories about people getting burned out on their first experience with red chile entitled “Historical and Hysterical Reactions to Eating Chile.” View the entire article here.