The Chile Ristra: albuquerque photographer

I read somewhere that the invention of the New Mexican chile ristra came about like most inventions-out of necessity. To preserve these glorious red chiles, they were originally spread out on rooftops and over the ground to allow the sun to dry them out. But, as anyone who has left fresh fruit on the ground can tell you, little critters can easily contaminate them. So, the tradition began of tying them together to form long clusters, which were then hung on porches and porticos, and even fences, to dry. Today in New Mexico, when you see those chile ristras appear, you know Fall is right behind them.

I don’t know for sure how you make them; I’ve never tried, but I’d like to thank the New Mexican who first came up with the idea, because although they are practical and traditional, those long bursts of brilliant red make one heck of a gorgeous prop.

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