Some Like It Hot

The virile chile -- the food that bites back -- has branded itself deep into America's palate

THE STYLISH, WELL-HEELED CROWD packing the aisles of the second Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta knew a hot trend when they saw it -- and tasted it. Between sips of Chardonnay, about 2,000 "chileheads" dressed in pepper-print shirts, skirts and ties spent four days sampling chile dishes, taking "chile tours" of the New Mexican countryside and listening to experts like Paul ("Mr. Chile") Bosland dispense advice on how to grow just about every member of the family, from the mild-mannered bell pepper to the Mexican habanero, the world's hottest. The chile mania "has really turned into a tiger," says Bosland,...

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