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Green Chile on the Web

By Noah Masterson

OCTOBER 6, 1997:  It's nice to know that as chile season nears its end, green chile will continue to thrive year round on the World Wide Web. With Web sites ranging from corporate advertisements to eccentric fan pages, green chile culture has successfully integrated with the Net. Enter "green chile" into any search engine, and you'll find more sites than you could possibly have time to sift through: Lycos brings up 2,157, AltaVista manages to locate 317,830 (I suspect many of these sites have a tangential relation to green chile at best) and HotBot finds a respectable 13,978.

Many green chile producers believe in the power of the Web to sell their product. Bueno Foods (www.buenofoods.com), based right here in Albuquerque, even sprung for their own domain. It's a simple, well-planned site that offers free recipes, seasonal specials and, of course, an easy-to-print order form.

Another commercial site offering green chile to endorphin-depleted Web surfers is New Mexico Chile Express (www.zianet.com/chileexpress/). With home offices in Fairacres, N.M., NMCE probably sells a lot of chile outside their hometown (how much walk-in business could they have?), so it's a good thing they're on the Web. Their Web site is more like someone's personal home page than a corporate site; there's a links page and a hit counter (1,071 curious chile chompers, woo woo!). The best thing on the NMCE site is the instructions for roasting green chile. I followed them and had some roasted chile tasty enough to eat by itself.

Superbly Southwestern (www.hotchile.com) is one of the few sites from which you can order your chile online. They accept MasterCard and Visa and ship right to your home. Superbly Southwestern also scores points for having a plethora of free recipes, from Chile Rellenos with Raisins to Green Chile Potato Casserole.

There are many other commercial sites offering green chile. They are easy to find, and there is little variety between them. The real challenge is to find personal Web pages dedicated to green chile. Who could be so obsessed with green chile that they would use up valuable megabytes on their server to promote the little capsaicin? Apparently, a number of people--you just have to dig deep.

If you enter "green chile fan" into Yahoo!, you can find some really great Chilean heavy metal sites--my favorite being the King Diamond/Mercyful Fate Chilean Coven (www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/6562), which has a sound clip of the (other) king's trademark falsetto and an animated graphic of Mr. Diamond writhing satanically in a wheelchair. If you use a different search engine, you might actually find something useful.

FireGirl's Chile Pepper Wonderland (www.firegirl.com) is evidence of someone with too much time on her hands. Winner of this year's Spicy Hot Web Site Contest, FireGirl offers tips on cooking, eating, growing, collecting and worshipping chile (the worship page includes a twisted prayer to El Grande Habañero). There are also links to nearly every chile fan site on the Web and a slightly pornographic story called "Fire in the Hole: The Ballad of a Yourng (sic) Chilly (sic, again)." FireGirl's Web site is a large, spicy pill to swallow but worth looking at for sheer weirdness value alone.

The cream of the crop of weird chile fan sites, however, is the home of the Transcendental Capsaicinophilic Society (www.io.com/~m101/tcs/). Known as "TCS" among friends, this site is devoted to the worship of all chiles, life-long dedication to chile consumption and making fun of people who "just can't take that spicy food." I became a member of TCS by sending in my name, shoe size and the role chile plays in my life. My response to the latter was that I begin each day with a subcutaneous injection of green chile laced with baby aspirin. I have yet to hear back from TCS, but I'm sure I'll receive my membership card soon.

Green chile's presence on the Web is not necessarily proof of its growing popularity. More likely, it's a testament to the vast amount of information--so much of which is useless--found on the Internet. Still, it's comforting that I can have 40 pounds of green chile delivered to my front door, or learn the recipe for green enchiladas without one iota of human contact. Isn't that what computers are for?

--Noah Masterson

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