Tracing a town with a square with a lovely scent, near Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Hi folks,

Back in 1987, as a medical doctor I paid a visit to the New Mexico University. As part of the agenda they kindly had arranged for me to visit several towns, not so distant from Albuquerque, in order to have a look at various ambulatory clinics where medical students were being trained. I remember one of those towns, in which I saw a charming square, very spanish like, with sidewalks, arcs, columns and a variety of souvenir and artisan shops. There was something very unusual around that square: an aroma, a lovely scent that was everywhere. It came out of something looking like seeds/nuts placed in barrels full of them. They were bright green (although rather artificialy coloured) and oily. I bought some and my family was pleased to have that lovelly scent back at home for many months. Unfortunatelly I don’t remember the name of that town. I have unsusccessfuly tried to find out where was that by sending emails to local people in New Mexico. I wonder if that help you to locate that place for me. I have thought that may be it was Santa Fe, but there is no reference whatsoever to those seeds/nuts in their web pages.

Any help?

Pablo Liendo
Caracas, Venezuela


There are a lot of towns in New Mexico laid out in Spanish fashion, but see if Taos is perhaps the town that you visited. I’ve been thinking very hard of what could be the seeds/nuts you refer to, but nothing fits the description. We have a lot of pistachio trees, which produce green and oily nuts, but they’re not very strongly scented. Though the green husks are almost pine-scented. There are also pinon nuts, which are oily but not overly green (except if they were picked while unripe). Me, when I think of green things that smell good, I always think of roasting green chiles. That’s the scent that drives New Mexicans wild!

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Piñon nuts!

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I copied and pasted your question to a friend using Facebook Messenger. She’s lived in NM a number of years. Hoping she knows something.

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I have been after some some info about the place I am tracing for years with no answer. I posted my request among this community and amazinly there are three valuable replies in a matter of hours. You’re great.

I know the pistachio oil. The ones I’m refering were far more bigger. In fact they were so much bigger that they might be somethiong else other than nuts. They were about 1 x 3/4 x 3/4 inches, they were very oily and their color color was bright green (R: 19, G: 220, B: 19).

Finally, I think that pinon nuts or green chiles are not related at all.

Receive all my greatfulness. Pablo

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Did they have a citrus-y smell? I’ve seen lots of potpourris in Mexico that have dehydrated limes or some other citrus about that size.


Like this, but only the bright green limes.

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Pablo—I’ve lived in New Mexico, first in Albuquerque and then in Santa Fe, for 49 years. I wonder if perhaps you are conflating a few memories of your time in our enchanting state. The only bright green seeds we produce here are pepitas, and I doubt they would be stored in large barrels around a Plaza (nor are they that aromatic unless being toasted) and green chile. Roasting green chile and burning pinon logs are two of the fragrances most associated with New Mexico— perhaps the barrels you remember are chile roasters and the bright green was the chile? Charlene

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Those things were not edible at all. I have even come to consider that they might not been seeds or nuts, but lumps of some kind of resin.

The scent was not citrus and it was very, very, strong, to the extend that the whole place around the square was filled with that lovely smell.

That experience was something awsome, unique, otherwise I would’t be bothering you with this topic. Unfortunately, after your valuable posts it seems that what I’m refering to is not something typical of New Mexico in general, not even of a certain nearby town in particular.

I’ll keep trying anyway.

Best regards. Pablo

Could it possibly have been black walnuts? When they are still covered by their fruit, they look like tennis balls. I don’t know if there are even black walnut trees in New Mexico. They do have a scent, but it’s more pronounced when the squirrels start eating them

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Is it possible that they were large immature juniper berries? The lovely smell of the forest around Taos is because of the piñon juniper trees. In fact, you can get incense with that scent. It immediately reminds me of crisp autumn days in New Mexico. The immature berries are green, the mature ones purple and then they can be dried and become black.

Hi Pablo: I think I know what you are looking for, I have some growing in my garden right now. I had to join to reply to your post, but since seeing no one has found your answer for you…I had to try.


“Underneath the outer skin, the interior is firm and slightly sticky, with a scent reminiscent of freshly picked herbs.”

New Mexico Native Tomatillo

I wish you peace & the best of luck. Stay healthy and well.


Hi Agnes,

First comes first: hope you and your clan are doing reasonably well, even in the midst of such a Pandemonium.

You really made my day. It is so amazing how after so many months and people like you send their bet.

Unfortunately your tomatillos do not fill the bill. Not even close.

What I am refering to had 1 1/2 x 3/4 inches, a very intense tone of green. The surface was brilliant, oily, with facets like a gem but asymetrical (see my drawing), not two of then equal (the shops stored tons of them in barrels). Part of the oil remained in your hands with a most wonderfull aroma that lasted for hours. I doubt they were taken as such directly from nature, nor that they were all artificial. Probably they were not machine made, but formed out of some sort of natural resin.

I haven’t lost faith in that one day I’ll find out what it is what I have in the back of my mine.

All my love to you and many many thanks indeed. Take all extra care you can.
[file:C:\Users\Pablo Liendo\Datos\Varios\Ne Mexico Thing.jpg](http://file:C:\Users\Pablo Liendo\Datos\Varios\Ne Mexico Thing.jpg)

Hello Pablo!

I am a long time New Mexico resident, and I immediately thought of rock pine resin. I have never seen it died green, but I assume you could. It has the most wonderful, gentle, sweet aroma, but it does fill the air. I have also never seen it sold in barrels, but that sounds like it would be wonderful. I used to collect it off of the trees and keep it in my sock drawer.

I hope this helps! Be safe out there!