Chiles have played a central role in Hispanic/Latin culture for a long time, especially around southern Colorado. Their flavorful taste and aroma activate senses that can evoke long-forgotten memories and build new associations.  

To continue Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Hispanic-Serving Institution Week, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is engaging employees in a heated chile debate ahead of today’s Cocina de los Correcaminos (Roadrunners Kitchen). The event will be hosted by Chalane Lechuga, Ph.D., professor of Chicana/o Studies, who will lead a salsa-making demonstration featuring two regional favorites.

Cocina de los Correcaminos

Noon-1 p.m.
Hospitality Learning Center Room 208 

The great chile debate 

Not all chiles are created equal. In fact, there has been much heated debate about which chile is the most favorable, based off of flavor, heat level and architecture for optimal roasting. A fan favorite for many years, the southern New Mexico Hatch chile boasts a large frame and a pungent flavor profile.  

However, the Pueblo chile (named for its hometown) is quite unique. Unlike most chiles that grow off the stem, this chile grows upward towards the sun, giving it the nickname Mirasol, which means “looks at the sun” in Spanish. With the high altitude, drastic shifts in weather patterns and unique growth pattern, this chile provides a complex flavor profile that packs a stronger punch, all bundled up in a more robust frame. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also allowed farmers to create the Pueblo Chile Growers Association, which has made for significant traction in the advertisement of the product. 

Still on the fence? Hear from a few MSU Denver employees:

Tisha Townsend, associate director of TRIO Student Support Services 

Having lived in New Mexico and on the Texas/Mexico border, I am a Hatch person. It just has way more flavor and spice level. To me, Pueblo chile just isn’t as flavorful and isn’t spicy at all. Hatch chile has an earthiness that you can taste and smell — it just takes me back to my walking around Santa Fe in October. There is nothing like it for me. Sorry, Pueblo!  

Estéfani E. Peña Figueroa, student-success specialist, Immigrant Services Program 

I enjoy Hatch chiles because they can be spicier. However, Pueblo chile is the best. Since they are thicker, it roasts better, giving it a rich flavor. But hey, I like them both, so I am very conflicted and I do not want to start a war. 

Horacio Borja-Duran, assistant director for Orientation and Retention 

I like both, to be honest. I’ve had good chiles that were Pueblo and Hatch. I think if I’m eating only the chile and not making an actual pot of chili, I like Hatch more. But for actual chili, I use mainly Pueblo, but that’s because it’s what I get from family.