The last few days have had me laid flat due to a sickness of the season. Its in these hours of restricted movement and mental frustration that my mind meandered to the respite that a warm bowl of chili can bring on these fatigued days. Call it medicine of the soul or a bowl of warm memories past, but in any case possible it is a moment where your body and mind can take a break and relax in the warm waves of flavor.
I have a book of chili recipes from across the Nation, one recipe from every state. Having read through the descriptions and recipes each one has there is a consistent idea for what makes a chili – that it fits with those it feeds. Arizona has a high spice, Texas with lots of chunk beef, Alaska uses mild flavors and Oregon uses seafood. In each of these places it is what that population calls chili – and if anyone from there says its not is likely that their family is a transplant who calls their ancestors version the quintessential ‘chili’.
This makes competing in Minnesota a difficult task as our population is a wayward mix of old and new, immigrants of places historically warm and cold, both recent and ages prior. How to appease this crowd? This year I am going with a feeling. That feeling when you bite into a spoonful and all you get in your mouth is the flavor of a memory. A time that reminds you that you are loved, that there is someone to wrap you up when you are sick, or bring you that bowl of warm soup. We don’t need to be like Cincinnati and add noodles, or Ohio and add vinegar. What people come for and eat is to be reminded of who they are in that most childlike of times; crouched on the couch wrapped in quilts and letting the steam from the bowl sitting warm in your hands help erase all feeling in your head.
I hope that you all can make it on Saturday so you can get a taste of that feeling, and fill your insides with warmth and comfort. Just don’t forget the beers to pair it with 😉