Central Market’s annual Hatch chile festival, Hatch-A-Palooza, is over for the year. But you can still get Hatch chile in most other Austin grocery stores. Did you ever wonder why grocery stores get so excited about Hatch chile?
Michael Balagia, who also happens to be my boyfriend, asked this ATXplained question after a particularly frustrating shopping trip at our nearby Central Market on North Lamar.
“We wanted to make gazpacho cause it was hot,” he said. “And we’re looking for Anaheim peppers. We asked the guy because we couldn’t find them, he said to get hatch chiles.” It got worse when we tried to buy sausage, too. Every single sausage that was made here had Hatch chiles in it. Hatch chile and chicken. Hatch chile and pork. Hatch chile and cheese.”
Central Market’s annual Hatch chile festival was in full swing. And the long, green peppers were everywhere, and in everything – Hatch chile cornbread, Hatch chile beer, Hatch chile coffee.
“It’s the Shark Week of organic grocery stores,” Michael said.
All of it got Michael thinking: Why?
“I just wonder what the reasoning or the motivation is behind it. Whether there’s H-E-B owns some kind of chile futures, do they have land in New Mexico, whether they have some contract, or whether there’s some hatch chile lobby in the background pulling all these strings? You gotta question these things.”
So, why hatch chiles?
The short answer: because the New Mexico Department of Agriculture has a really good marketing team.