Ristra Thoughts

Pepper ristras adorn roadside markets in New Mexico before the Fall equinox.  Bundles of harvest, early-arriving gifts from Christmas future, ristras symbolize the product of good growth in the high desert country, the earth’s abundance with green and red eruptions.  Unlike other harvest food, the red and green pepper wreaths are hung for celebration as well as convenient spice for stew, meat and vegetables.  When I see ristras, I see New Mexico, the American Southwest and callused hands nurturing soil and weaving garlands, farmers sitting under arbors beside the highway in a hundred places.  Entering winter’s cold after equinox, I know the fruit of the ristra will warm me, warm us, into the day and night on both sides of Christmas with sight and taste for the holiday, table and heart.



I am not getting any kickback from this link The Real Southwest Hatch Chile Pepper Ristras, but it was too good to let pass with this post.  There are probably a number of other links and articles on the web.  I will try to list more ristra links under this post.


Filed under Santa Fe

13 responses to “Ristra Thoughts

  1. Beautifully written. Brings many images of New Mexico to mind. Going soon, so will see and enjoy many.

  2. Nice tribute to the harvest in the high desert river valley!

    • Thanks, Cirrelda. I cherish what you say about what I write about regarding New Mexico. That’s a roundabout way of saying that you are a native New Mexican and know if I am on point or not. Happy October to you!

  3. For many years before moving to Santa Fe, I always had a ristra hanging in my entry, purchased on the latest trip out there. It made me feel as though I could have a part of NM return home with me. After moving there I continued this tradition. Thanks for the memories…

  4. Hi Jack
    This would be so amazing to have a string of all the red and green peppers hanging up in my kitchen. I love this…for me this is so unique just like in Bern, Switzerland where they have strings of garlic bundled together for the locals or tourism to purchase. I always loved this, being creative and bundling items up for displaying even if it is something we can eat too. Sometimes beauty can be found just in our gardens too…

  5. Evangeline


    The smell of roasting chile, the hours spent peeling it and bagging it , makes it all worth the work put into it.
    On long winter days there nothing like chile added to your meals…

    • Evangeline, I can smell it now. Roasting. I saw two of the roasting bins at the Farmers’ Market in Santa Fe over labor day. Brenda puts them under the broiler, then into a paper sack.

  6. Kittie Howard

    My grandmother kept a ristra on the screened-in back porch. I remember how it comforted, for all the reasons you so beautifully wrote about. I sometimes wonder if the young ‘uns today are comforted by such warmth, by how all ties together. I remember having a certain awe at how my elders did things and felt a certain respect for their ability. I felt a certain warmth that we were all linked together.

    • I think it is important to tie as much together as can be done. I, too, feel the warmth about the ristra. I’ve got to see how it is woven. Thanks, Kittie, for your comment. I am hoping you can get my blog back on your sidebar.

  7. Hi Jack, I love your new Gravatar! Wow that is cool.

    That is a gorgeous picture of the ristras. The kind we have here are the bigger red peppers.

    When I first moved here I wanted a ristra so bad but couldn’t find one—in Bisbee AZ! But in Tucson they sell them along sides of busy roads for about $15 for a small one. I even looked up the word ristra, having no clue what it meant, then it all became clear.

    I had big plans of including the ristra in a still-life painting with some other southwestern objects. I know it’s been done many times—but I like to think mine would be special…all I need is the motivation! Someday. Of course I’d need a new ristra!


    • Dearest Debra, motivation…goodness knows where it comes from? Glad you like the ristra. Do the still-life painting. Many versions of it. You have much creativity. I wish I had your years in front of me. Sigh….

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