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Chili at the Rodeo

Mandy Carrico
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Book Buzz is a blog produced in collaboration with neighborhood librarians from Houston Public Library, Harris County Public Library and the Bellaire Library.

The rodeo is full of fun, music, sport and lots and lots of food. Good eats such as barbeque, fried desserts and food on a stick are staples at this event. One important food staple is chili. It tops off chips, hot dogs and French fries, it makes a hearty meal-in-one soup, and it comes in many different varieties.

A recent conversation with a coworker started up a chili discussion. She hails from Cincinnati where they pour chili over spaghetti. A pat on her hand, a small smile, and a, “Oh, that’s not chili, that’s pasta” started up a very lively and humorous debate on what constitutes chili. “You just put it in a bowl?” was her incredulous response to my attempt at chili education. “That’s not chili, that’s sauce!”

Indeed, where you come from and how you grew up will shape your view of chili. Everything else becomes an interesting chili alternative. So setting aside whatever you consider “true” chili, you can have fun exploring chili deviations in these cookbooks and information guides devoted to the stuff.

Authentic History of Cincinnati Chili by Dan Woellert explores Cincinnati region chili through their chili parlors including Gold Star, Dixie, Camp Washington and Skyline, one of the city’s most famous chili spots. This type of chili includes the base of ground meat, beans and tomato but to the north, it’s not chili until you mix in the spaghetti.

The Chili Cookbook: A History of the One-Pot Classic, with Cook-off Worthy Recipes from Three-Bean to Four-Alarm and Con Carne to Vegetarian by Robb Walsh is a book that takes chili incarnations from all regions: smothering tamales in San Antonio, topping hash browns in St. Louis or on hamburgers in Los Angeles. It gathers them all in a one-stop, region-hopping recipe book. In addition, it explores the origins of chili and comes with a Chile Identification Guide that lists the various peppers in order from the most mild to the spiciest.

Cool zaooking up chili: beyond the basics for kids who cook by Lisa Wagner teaches kids the chili basics. From basic seasoning to side dishes to even dessert (chili brownies!), this book covers everything and makes this dish an easy and delicious cooking lesson for youth.

Now that your mouth is watering, we want to know! How do you chili?

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