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Feb 17, 2010 08:54 AM

Northern versus Southern New Mexico Cooking--What Are the Differences?

I'm more familiar with the cuisine of southern New Mexico than that of the north. For those of you in the know about both, what are the chief differences?

I gather that blue corn tortillas are more common in the north, and I get the sense, perhaps erroneously, that the food of the south is more down-home and traditional while that of the north is more innovative and sophisticated.

But what else?

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  1. I think that's a pretty fair summary. Each community in the South has its own sub-style which I haven't found to be true up north where there's more outside influence. No such thing as blue down south.

    1. You'll find traditional northern NM fare in small towns like Las Vegas. It's OK but I don't really care for it, the gordita flour tortillas are too thick and the red & green chile are to thin and watery. Aside from breakfast burritos, I don't like potatoes served with mexican food which seems the norm in the north (and some southern places also). There's nothing inherently wrong with it, that's the way they eat in northern NM

      7 Replies
      1. re: mrbigshotno.1

        You'll not find chicos on the menu in the south. And they're much harder to find now in the north . . .

          1. re: Perilagu Khan

            Chicos are dehydrated (usually smoked) sweet corn kernels rehydrated in a beef/chile stew. They pop between your teeth as you eat them. Good stuff. You can still get them at Matilda's in EspaƱola.

            1. re: Erich

              Interesting. Sounds like a variation of posole.

              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                Not really - perhaps I didn't describe it well, but it's a completely different animal. They do posole in N. NM, and no one would consider it as similar to chicos. Posole (here) uses pork and and "oregano" and red chile sauce added into it (maybe some chopped raw onion and cilantro as well, but nothing like the variety of stuff that goes into Mexican pozole). And hominy is nothing like the smoked and dehydrated sweet corn chicos (which you're not likely to find available commercially).

                Let me know the next time you're up Santa Fe way, and I'll try to hook you up.

                1. re: Erich

                  Me and the wife will be heading into New Mexico late next week. We don't know for certain where exactly we'll be, but Taos is a possibility.

                  And, BTW, what I meant by the posole/chico comparison was that they were both stews that use corn kernels in one form or another. I suppose that's where the similarities end. I'd love to grab a bowl of chicos to see just what it's all about.

                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                    Gotcha! If you're driving through EspaƱola, consider hitting Matilda's.


                    If you're coming through Albuquerque, I'd be happy to hand you a baggie of chicos and a recipe that you could make yourself back in the Panhandle.