Friday, July 9, 2010

Will it be green chili or red?

Tomorrow, I’m entered in a Chili Cookoff at Cornerstone Fellowship in Livermore, California. I spent half of today prepping for the big event. A couple of weeks ago, I ran tests on my recipe. Then I read the rules and realized I didn’t have to do the traditional red chili recipe: I could use my famous green chile verde.

So which one will I cook? To find out, tune in to Food Network tonight when I divulge whether I’m cooking red or green chili. I think the world deserves to know which chile I’m cooking. Proceeds go to the Starving Journalists Fund.

Have you noticed I seem to be confused about the spelling of chile/chili? That’s because it’s spelled with the e in all Latin countries. American journalists long ago changed the spelling to the English version. I still spell it chiles when I’m referring to the hot little vegetables that spice up so much of my favorite Mexican foods. I spell it with an i when making the traditional red sauced beef or pork.

Chili originated in San Antonio, Texas, back in the 1800s when chile queens sold their stews in the evening to the locals, businessmen and pimps, according to Robb Walsh in “The Tex-Mex Cookbook (Broadway Books, 2004). The red stew gained prominence in the 1893 Columbian Exhibition in Chicago at this “world’s fair.” The Texas exhibit recreated a typical chili stand and sold Texas chili con carne to fair-goers. Texans didn’t originally add beans to their chili. I grew up eating Chile Colorado in Arizona, and it’s always been one of my favorites.

Chile or chile hasn’t always been popular among Mexicans. Back in the 1800s, affluent Mexico City residents considered beans, chiles, corn tortillas and tamales as “low-class street foods. Chile’s flavor was considered uniquely “un-Mexican” (Walsh). Yeah, but it sure does taste good.

Anyway, my day is shot. I have to abide by certain rules, namely cooking everything on-site tomorrow. About all I could do today was go shopping, cut up my meat and season it ahead of time. Now I know why everybody in chili contests seem to use hamburger in their dishes. I spent two hours cutting up the chuck steak I purchased. Next time, I’m going with lean ground chuck to avoid the sore hands.

I’m all set for tomorrow. I plan to load my car at 5 a.m. and drive to the church, so I can begin cooking at 6 a.m., the designated start time. By 10:45, I must give a sample (a big one) to the judges. I have to provide 18 quarts of chili for the official judging and the Rimz & Ribz patrons’ judging. I borrowed a three-burner propane stove so I don’t have to use my two-burner camp stove, which just ain’t big enough to make my grande Texas chili in time.

Come on down and check out the cars and come visit me while I’m sweatin’ away.

Here’s a link to the event:

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