Recently, a certain Camden community manager here in Austin sent me an email asking me to post on the state food of Texas: chili. With the temperatures beginning to drop and tailgating held every weekend chili seems to take over in the fall as a Texan’s dish of choice. Personally, I hated eating tomatoes until a few years ago, so I only started eating chili recently. I’ve attempted to make the spicy concoction a few times but I still haven’t created a batch I really like. However, I agreed to do some research on the subject and I was surprised at what I found.
First, I stumbled upon the International Chili Society (ICS). I suppose I should’ve known that there is a governing body to regulate and judge chili around the country. Their website lists all of the upcoming ICS cookoffs, provides an in-depth history of chili including some of the oldest known recipes, and even offers every World Championship Chili Cookoff winning recipe dating back to 1967 (even though I’m sure one or two ingredients were omitted).
Also, the Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI) popped up during my search. This seems to be similar to the ICS, only they hold the Terlingua International Chili Championship in Terlingua, Texas on the first Saturday of November every year (giving Wurstfest in New Braunfels a run for its money). Also, the ICS only offers one chili cookoff in Texas while CASI lists countless competitions across the state and the country. In fact, one cookoff is taking place this Saturday, 10/6 at Giddy Ups in South Austin.
After reading through these sites (among other search results), I have an urge to hop on the chili chuckwagon. If you are someone like myself who holds an affinity for regional comfort food but doesn’t have a secret family recipe for chili, take a few ideas from the recipes online and mess around with them until you have something all your own. In doing this, you’ll not only make your friends and family happy but you will also continue a Texas tradition that has been cherished for centuries. Grab your cowboy boots and ten-gallon hat out of the attic and remember these immortal words from Ken Finlay: “If you know beans about chili, you know that chili has no beans.”