New Mexico’s new official state aroma

“​​The first condition of understanding a country is to smell it.” – Rudyard Kipling

The New Mexico Legislature rarely makes me laugh. This year they did. An article in the Santa Fe New Mexican notes that it passed a bill designating the aroma of fire-roasted green chile as the official New Mexico smell. Governor Michele Lujan Grisham signed the bill in Las Cruces on March 28, 2023.

While New Mexico is not a country, to understand New Mexico, you should appreciate the unique aroma of fire-roasted green chile. Importantly, the roasting smell only lasts thirty minutes, while eating Green Chile is an everyday pleasure.

Fire-roasting chile is when the outside waxy layer is quickly scorched with a flame to a char, allowing the removal of the outer skin without damaging the inside chile meat. The plant produces a waxy coating to keep moisture inside the chile pepper while it’s growing. Fire-roasting prepares the outer skin for removal and also gives the chile meat a fantastic smokey flavor.

As to what made me laugh, it was when discussing S.B. 188, one senator, a dairy farmer, noted the stuff sticking to his boots in the dairy barn happens to be the smell he associates most with New Mexico.

And friends, I know both the roasting smell and the cow pie smell. In fact, I am not revolted by either smell but prefer the green chile roasting over mucking out of a cow shed, which I have done more times than I care to remember.

S.B. 188, introduced by Senator Bill Soules (D-Las Cruces), lists the official New Mexico names for: flower, bird, tree, fish, animal, vegetables, gem, grass (not the intoxicant) fossil, cookie, insect, question, answer, nickname, butterfly, reptile, amphibian, aircraft, historic railroad, tie, necklace, and last but not least, aroma.

They forgot the New Mexico sound of Fire-Roasting. It is a white noise and could be on a white noise machine for going to sleep. During the next session, they could add a twenty-third designation, the sound of fire-roasting chile as the official New Mexico sound.

The New Mexico sound I recognize most often is the sound of wind moving swiftly across New Mexico as we hold onto our hats. One time the wind in New Mexico suddenly stopped, and about 500 ranchers all fell over at once. Another New Mexico sound is tumbleweeds being smashed by cars on roads. They are grilled tumbleweeds, though not edible.

While the pleasant smells of fire-roasting chile are mildly interesting to me, it is the tasting and eating of green and red chile that matters. There are certainly fewer calories for you to just sniff the air and comment on the texture and suitability of the chile smell. However great the smell is, it is not satisfying.

The pleasure of Southwestern cuisine and the delight of New Mexico is a plate of red or green enchiladas with tortillas. That is what spins my happy meter.

Finally, the impetus for making the smell of green chile roasting the official smell of New Mexico was the work of some Las Cruces elementary students. I hope the Las Cruces Public Schools puts in a program to teach all students how to plant and care for chile pepper plants. And to roast the peppers.

Throughout the school year, the school lunch program should offer green and red chile. The students will learn the answer to the official New Mexico question: Red or green? The Official New Mexico answer is: Red and green or Christmas, Let’s eat! Note: I added what’s important to that official answer.

Michael was born at Holloman Air Force Base outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico, his father a career Air Force photographer. He became a photographer at NMSU for the student Round-Up and the yearbook, where he was the head photographer from 1968-69. Later, he was the initial production manager when KRWG-TV went on the air in February 1972. In 1973, Michael was hired by KOB-TV. He has mixed a love of media with a love of education, having taught at Albuquerque High School, Doña Ana Community College, and the NMSU College of Education. Michael holds a Ph.D. in educational administration with a focus on distance learning. From a lifelong enjoyment of chile, he is happy writing and talking about it.

Opinions expressed by Piñon Post contributors do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the publication or its editorial staff. Submit an op-ed to the Piñon Post at


4 thoughts on “New Mexico’s new official state aroma”

  1. With all of the problems facing our Republic today – crime, drugs, traitor politicians, the invasion on our border, collapsing economy, the deep state stealing our freedoms, the stolen elections, bank failures – and our elected “leaders” find time to vote on an “aroma” Where are the bolts of lightning – The Wrath of God – to smite these useless slugs? It’s past their time, their aroma is a stench, a blight on New Mexico.

  2. If Soules wanted to teach the children about the legislative process, he should have had them testify in the legislature about the increased need for high speed broadband to improve education and economic development. Something’s that can have a lasting impact. The aroma bill is like Soules joke of the day, lame.

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