Chili hits the spot

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Feb 20, 2019 - 02:22 PM

Photo: Piankatank Ruritan Club winning first and second place: Lori Roscher, left, and Warren Brooks. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

Piankatank Ruritan Club winning first and second place: Lori Roscher, left, and Warren Brooks. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

Photo: Mathews Lions Club winning third place: Linda Hernandez, left, and Jean Helms-Roberts.

Mathews Lions Club winning third place: Linda Hernandez, left, and Jean Helms-Roberts.

For the sixth year the Mathews Volunteer Rescue Squad has sponsored the local Chili Cook-Off Contest, and for the sixth year it has been a tasting extraordinaire. Civic groups compete, preparing what they believe to be the best chili of them all. Judges select the top three entries while ticket-holders tasting each entry cast their votes for people’s choice.

 

The Piankatank Ruritan Club, for the second year in a row, won both first- and second-place honors. The club offered two versions of chili.

The Mathews Lions Club, as it did last year, was awarded third place. The people’s choice was captured by a first-time participant, the Gwynn’s Island Civic League first, Lions Club second and Mathews Ruritan Club third.

Ron Lambert, who has chaired this event since its beginning, commented on the success of chili night in Mathews. “We had approximately 320 people there during the night.” He said attendance was “down a little but from my viewpoint, everyone there had a great time and the chilis were really good. One thing I think is amazing is Lynne Davenport. For all 6 years she has said, ‘order what you need and I will get it for you.’ She has provided everything each year. Cornbread, brownies, cookies, bread pudding, all condiments, every bowl, cup and even the napkins. And the good news is that we now have 21 AEDS in our county.”

The Mathews Chili Cook-off is responsible for many of these lifesaving devices placed in easily accessible places throughout the county.

The only thing certain about chili is that it did not originate in Mexico. If there is a doubt, the “Diccionario deMejicanismos” defines chili con carne as (roughly translated) “detestable food passing itself off as Mexican sold in the U.S. from Texas to New York.”

That brings up the question, “Where did chili originate and what is the difference between chili, chilli (another correct spelling) and chili con carne?”

Many stories are told about the origin of chili but most historians agree that San Antonio, Texas, is the birthplace of chili as we know it. Chili con carne means with meat but this is usually referred to as just chili. (Of course, if it happens to be a vegan version, it cannot be called chili con carne.) The International Chili Society defines chili as any kind of meat or combination of meats, cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of beans and pasta which are strictly forbidden.

However, those rules are dismissed in many parts of this country and rightfully so. Somehow, chili without beans doesn’t seem like chili.

Note: Facts and quotes on chili were taken from “History and Legends of Chili,” “A Brief History of Chili,” “Who Invented Chili” and “Chilis.” 

Here are recipes from Chili Night. The Gwynn’s Island Civic League’s chili recipe, winner of the People’s Choice Award, is not included. It’s a secret. 

Will Rogers (1879-1935) called chili a “bowl of Blessedness.” He judged a town by the quality of its chili. Keeping a box score, he concluded that the best chili was in a small café in Coleman, Texas.