"Do You Want Red or Green?"

“Do you want green or red with that?” I can remember the first time I was asked that question! I was eating in a New Mexican restaurant in Santa Fe, NM. It was my lunch break while attending a training conference at Glorieta. I was stumped at first and simply asked, “Could I get those on the side?!” I did not have the foggiest idea what that question really meant. But, these many years later, I can now say emphatically, “I know how tasty green chiles are!”

Truth be told, I have fallen into “culinary love” with the chile pepper!! This may sound sick, but I dream about green chiles! I even grow them in my backyard box! Now, I have family that prefer processed red chiles, but I do not share their passion for the red! Green is my choice! I’ve ordered jars of them from Weck’s, my favorite breakfast and lunch restaurant, and had them mailed to me by the case! I like green chiles in my scrambled eggs, layered in a beef and cheese-filled tortilla casserole dish, and combined along with relish and mustard on a grilled bratwurst!

“Red and Green” are part of the food vernacular in New Mexico. It’s all about the chile pepper, a hot and spicy pepper fruit known for its pungency. Several varieties of the chile pepper are prolific and grown throughout the arid climate of the west and southwest. Top producing states include: California, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. They are categorized under the scientific name: Capsicum annuum. Please don’t confuse this with the chili (sometimes spelled chilli by Springfield, IL locals!) that we eat in a bowl with crackers on a cold, winter day! 😉

New Mexicans are extremely creative and daring about their integration of this hot pepper into their everyday food diet! True blue aficionados enthusiastically add sliced green chiles to tamales, enchiladas, burritos, cheese burgers, pizza, stews, cornbread, baked macaroni, beef jerky, peanut brittle and even apple pie!  Just imagine the combinations of flavor! Check out this site for additional ideas… 17 Tasty Ways to Try Green Chiles in New Mexico (iexplore.com)

During August and September, it is common to see make-shift chile pepper roasting stations show up in front of grocery stores and on nearby parking lots. As the harvest of peppers comes in, growers bring their varieties to market. Customers line up to buy them by the ten-pound burlap sack and can watch as they are roasted in propane heated basket barrels that rotate and blister their treasured contents. While the steamy smoke is wafting throughout the area, you are likely to smell the penetrating vapor long before your eyes see the exact location where these delectable chiles are being processed!

Now, I must warn you that the ingestion of copious amounts of chile peppers can be hard on your gut! On average, they are modestly rated 6 on the Scoville Heat Level indices. Technically, that is usually around 15,000 to 30,000 SHL units! While there are many pepper varieties that are much hotter to the taste, that’s still some serious heat in your mouth and can result in considerable distress for the uninitiated! I have heard reports from individuals that such an encounter has had them singing the old Johnny Cash song, “Ring of Fire” the next day! I know, TMI (Too much information!).

Isn’t it interesting how easy it is to talk about a subject that we are passionate about? I can prattle on endlessly and all day long about my favorite foods, sports team, a television program, our grandchildren, or some health issue! But, when it comes to sharing about my faith and the most important Person in my life, namely, Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, I tend to grow strangely quiet. Why is that?

I am the recipient of Christ’s incredible love and His amazing grace in salvation! I know firsthand how His transforming power has changed my life over these sixty years since the summer of 1962 when I became a Christian as an eleven-year-old boy! It was then, at a Methodist Church camp that “Jesus came into my life!” And I know by daily experience with Christ what the old hymn affirms, “What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart,” and how because of His death on Calvary’s cross, “My sins which are many are all washed away.”

I will never forget coming home after that week-long camp to share with my grandmother, a UMC Sunday school teacher, what had happened to me. She said, “Mike, this is going to change your life!” And she was so right about that! I have received untold blessings and “Floods of joy o’er my soul like the sea billows roll.”

The Word of God reminds us, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9). Every day, I am claiming Jesus’ promise of abundant life in the here and now (John 10:10b), and eternal life with Him in heaven (Jn. 10:27-28). The hymn writer’s testimony is mine, “I shall go there to dwell in that city I know, since Jesus came into my heart!”

What is your story and are you enthusiastically sharing it?

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent. 
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com 


  1. Since Jesus came into my life at the UMC in my home town at age 19, I know he has brought me through many things when I didn't realise it at the time, now I see many things. you know the song Victory In Jesus, that's. my song and I do share it. As to your liking for chili peppers , they are not for me.love and blessings

    1. Great testimony, friend! The green chile is not for everyone!!


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