Heirlooms come in many forms: an antique watch or a great-grandmother’s cookie recipe or a variety of tomato. In each case, its vitality and significance only endures if its steward protects it, understands its provenance, gives it new life, and passes it on. We hope you enjoy these stories and recipes, each a small slice from New Mexico’s food heritage, and we hope you may be inspired, too, to pass them on.

New Mexico has some of the deepest and most diverse culinary traditions in the country. Our food traditions help us understand where we’ve come from and offer us a source of great cultural wealth and pride. It is important to preserve these traditions, not simply out of pride or nostalgic sentimentality, but also to remember the lessons of history we need to move forward. The food traditions of our state not only help shine light on our greater history, they offer invaluable resources toward reimagining a more sustainable, more equitable, healthier, and, hopefully, more delicious future.

From historic institutions and livestock to shared seeds and cultural traditions, in this issue we are spotlighting some of New Mexico’s greatest culinary heirlooms. Chef Lois Ellen Frank takes us to Russia, where she used food to promote unity and cultural understanding, teaching traditional Native American food practices and recipes to chefs and diplomats. State Historian Rick Hendricks takes us back to the arrival of the Spanish in the sixteenth century, when an influx of new foods included the parent generations of two livestock breeds—Dahl sheep and Criollo cattle—that currently hold promise for New Mexico ranchers adapting to a drier future. We then look to another key moment, centuries later, when an Englishman named Fred Harvey began serving up thick beef steaks and chile con carne to hungry travellers along the AT&SF Railway and Route 66. Together, these stories illustrate New Mexicans’ strong commitment to celebrating and preserving their local food history.

In more recent history, we travel to the small town of Monticello, New Mexico, where each autumn a community comes together to harvest and crush grapes for one of the country’s finest vinegars, produced with age-old Italian methods. We’ll also examine a near-legendary retired farmer, Elizabeth Sebastian, who reigned as the premier Santa Fe market farmer of the 1980s and 90s and helped elevate some of the state’s most celebrated restaurants. Finally, in our Edible Tradition section, we focus on three iconic New Mexico restaurants, Michael’s Kitchen, Tomasita’s, and Mary and Tito’s, which have all, over several generations of serving crowd-pleasing comfort food, helped shape how we define the most basic elements of our region’s culinary identity.

Heirlooms come in many forms: an antique watch or a great-grandmother’s cookie recipe or a variety of tomato. In each case, its vitality and significance only endures if its steward protects it, understands its provenance, gives it new life, and passes it on. We hope you enjoy these stories and recipes, each a small slice from New Mexico’s food heritage, and we hope you may be inspired, too, to pass them on.

Ahead of the Curve

Elizabeth Sebastian Defied Conventions to Diversify Northern New Mexico’s Palate By Willy Carleton · Photos by Stephanie Cameron Windows down, we drift out of cell phone service and slowly follow the rippling Chama River upstream through yellow-leaved cottonwoods and...
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Looking Back, Thinking Forward

Two New Mexico Heritage Livestock Breeds By Rick Hendricks Two modest experiments with historical dimensions and big promises for the future are currently underway in New Mexico. On just under twenty acres of the original Belen land grant, Donald A. Chavez y Gilbert...
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From Rail to Table

The Legacy of the Fred Harvey Company By Jason Strykowski Not too long ago, the best food in the American West was served at a chain restaurant. These eateries crafted cuisine with continental and North American influences using fresh, local produce and imported...
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Santa Fe Spirits: an interview with colin keegan, founder / General Manager, best beverage artisan (alcoholic)

photos by Stephanie Cameron Colin Keegan moved to Santa Fe in 1992 with his wife Suzette and daughter Phoebe, and spent fifteen years here practicing architecture. When the economy took a downturn, he decided to turn his distilling hobby into a business, and in 2010...
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Vinaigrette an interview with Erin Wade, Owner of Vinaigrette and Modern General

images by Kitty Leaken and Jen Judge Erin Wade graduated from Harvard in 2002 with a degree in English and all the makings for a successful career in fashion. While studying in Milan, she had an epiphany that would completely correct her course. The concrete jungle...
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A New Mexico Classic: The Compound Turns 50

On the afternoon of May 30, 2000, chef Mark Kiffin stood in the dining room of the historic adobe property known as The Compound, inspecting his impeccable waitstaff. This was the opening night of Kiffin’s incarnation of The Compound, a legendary and beloved Santa Fe...
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A Taste of Love and Laughter: Aceto Balsamico of Monticello

Like the warm spring that feeds a perennial acequia through the Alamosa Creek Canyon, Jane and Steve Darland are a wellspring of craftsmanship, ideas, humor, and hospitality, fostering agriculture and community in the village of Monticello. On a bright day in...
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Early Winter Issue: Heirloom

READ THE DIGITAL EDITION Heirlooms come in many forms: an antique watch or a great-grandmother’s cookie recipe or a variety of tomato. In each case, its vitality and significance only endures if its steward protects it, understands its provenance, gives it new life,...
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Tomasita’s: Serving Family Values

by Moises Santos In the land of ubiquitous red and green, what makes a place like Tomasita’s different from the rest? Something must be different for a Santa Fe restaurant to become an institution that has lasted more than forty years. To uncover that difference...
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edible

edible

Edible celebrates New Mexico's food culture, season by season. We believe that knowing where our food comes from is a powerful thing. With our high-quality, aesthetically pleasing and informative publication, we inspire readers to support and celebrate the growers, producers, chefs, beverage and food artisans, and other food professionals in our community.
edible