The Infinite Variety of Chili

Friday, October 31, 2014

I was getting ready to create a new version of my favorite chili recipe when it occurred to me why I like chili so much. Chili is just like my “kitchen sink” salads and my other favorite dish, frittatas. You can put just about anything in to a chili and it is super easy to make healthy varieties.They are also ideal to cook in a slow-cooker making preparation even easier.

The origins of chili are a little murky. Just like pizza, it is really an American made invention. All agree that the name comes from the use of fresh chilies in the recipe. Most food pundits also agree that the original basic ingredients for an authentic chili included chilies, meat and beans. According to one online source chili as a spice has been around for a long time- The origin of chilies is believed to be as old as 7000 B.C. used in Mexico. Chilies were grown and cultivated from 3500 BC. Mexicans used it to spice up their food. Then the same source goes on to tell an amusing version of the introduction of chilies to Spain by Christopher Columbus: Chili was brought to the rest of the world by Christopher Columbus who discovered America in 1493. Christopher had set from Spain to reach India to bring spices such as pepper back to his country. Christopher not only mistook America for India, but also mistook chili as the black pepper. That is how the chili got the name ‘chile pepper.’ He took chile pepper back to Spain where it became a very famous spice.

The dish “chili” was made popular in New Mexico and Texas because of the cowboys. It was an easy meal to fix on the trail. You could use whatever was available depending on location, like different types of meat. And many of the ingredients could be dried which was easier to carry and transport. 

According to the International Chili Society our love of chili in the United States and worldwide has only grown over the years.  As stated, In 1977, a bill was introduced in the Texas legislature to designate chili as the official state dish, and one year earlier, back in California, Rufus (Rudy) Valdez, a full-blooded Ute Indian, won the world chili championship, using what he claimed to be a two thousand-year-old recipe.

Whether you are getting ready for a holiday like Halloween or just want an easy supper that can serve as few as 2 or as many as 20, chili is a very accessible and easy “go to” meal. Here are some links to recipes and versions I enjoy:

Weekend Chili
Vegetarian Chili
Chili Made with Late Harvest Tomatoes
State of Slim Crowd-Pleasing Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Chili with a Livliga Flair

Complete the meal with a simple tossed green salad. And don’t forget the cornbread!

Perfect Cornbread
Rosemary Cheddar Cornbread

Enjoy! And Live Vibrant! And Eat Mindfully.

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