A ristra is an arrangement of drying chile pepper pods for later consumption. In addition to its practical use, the ristra has come to be a trademark of decorative design in the state of New Mexico. Typically, large chiles such as New Mexico chiles and Anaheim peppers are used, although any kind of chile may be used to construct a ristra.
“Chile, they say, is the king, the soul of the Mexicans–a nutrient, a medicine, a drug, a comfort. For many Mexicans, if it were not for the existence of chile, their national identity would begin to disappear.”
Ristras are believed to "bring both good health and good luck to those who hang them at their house.
“The extravagant use of red pepper among the [New] Mexicans has become truly proverbial. It enters into nearly every dish at every meal, and often so predominates as entirely to conceal the character of the viands.”
–Josiah Gregg, The Commerce of the Prairies, 1844.