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Hatch Chile Pepper and Central Market Make-Out Session Starts Today

Central Market has dusted off their huge black roasters for their 17th Annual Hatch Chile Festival. The scent of the sweet, acidic, charred peppers will waft through the air, as the Foodies roast the peppers in front of stores and wipe their sweaty foreheads with bandanas. Good times. Can't believe it's here again already. It's almost like Christmas.

A little background on the pepper, for those of you who might be new to the area or just don't get the hoopla; the birthplace of these peppers is Hatch, a small town in the southern part of New Mexico that hugs the Rio Grande. The chiles from the namesake town are mild and sweet. There are actually several varieties of peppers from the area that all fall under the "Hatch" umbrella.

Hatch peppers have a short growing period and are typically harvested in mid- to late August. Because they're only available for a short time, many fans of the Hatch roast and freeze them to use in queso, chili, soup, eggs and a hundred other things throughout the year.

Other than a bevy of products both infused with and inspired by Hatch peppers (oh, that pesto...) there's the annual recipe contest for those feeling particularly masterful of the New Mexico pepper.

For all you little chickies who want to check it out, all stores currently have Hatch peppers in stock and they're all roasting them on a daily basis, except for Plano who, per city permit, can't roast until Friday. The event lasts through August 21.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.