Our neighbors in New Mexico are knee-deep in one of my favorite Christmas food memories: posole. When I was a teenager, my parents opened a retail store that sold leather and leather-care products, including shoe polish, cream or spray (yes, spray paint for shoes!) in every color of the spectrum. Leather Etc. also carried sheepskin seat covers (big seller) and trophy buckles for the urban cowboy who didn’t want to have to ride a bull, whether mechanical or maniacal, to win a buckle that could be used to hold up his britches or as a tray to carry afternoon tea to the terrace. The store was in a two-seater strip that had our store and a finance office, sharing a parking lot with Pizza Inn. Pat from the finance office was a New Mexico native and spent her breaks at the store talking to my mom. One chilly morning while I was spending my Christmas break working at the store, Pat brought over a canister of posole. "It’s a Christmas tradition in Albuquerque,” she told me. "Taste’s kinda like chili.” I immediately turned a dark shade of dubious. By age 15, I wrongly considered myself a chili expert, and when someone described a dish as "like chili,” red flags towered over my inflated sense of chili propriety. "It’s a little hotter, though.” I told Pat I couldn’t wait to try it, but my inner know-it-all was screaming, "Them’s fightin’ words!” The battle to hate posole ended as soon as it filled my mouth. Posole was, and forever remains, delicious. Posole is a sea of red chile-infused broth in which hominy comes alive and pork braises itself into buttery submissiveness. Isn’t that all any of us ever really want for Christmas? Posole is also eaten for New Year’s in New Mexico, so feel free to make a huge amount and freeze what you can’t eat in one sitting. As for the heat, it’s strictly up to the cook. The type of chile used will determine the heat. Anchos, red Californias and guajillos are milder; Chimayos, Arbols and New Mexico hot reds will exercise your sweat glands. Posole, also spelled pozole, is also the Spanish word for hominy. It’s a corn kernel soaked and cooked in limewater and hulled. It’s used to make masa for tamales and tortillas. The dish can be made with dried hominy or canned. If you start from scratch with dry hominy, you’ll end up with a thicker version. Canned hominy is obviously much faster. Whether from scratch or poured from a can, this comfort food from the Southwest is sure to become a holiday tradition in your home. By the following Christmas, I had purchased my first car from Pat — a two-tone Caprice Classic repo job — and met her daughter, who did for my eyes what the posole had done for my taste buds. The posole I got for Christmas, but not the girl. I blame the Caprice.