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A Bowl Of Red

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A Bowl of Red

No food is more steeped in Texas' mythical history than chili. One legend has it that chili was first prepared by the cooks on the cattle drives, using the wild chilies found along the trail. The chilies added flavor to the monotonous chuck wagon fare of stewed meat served with beans and biscuits.

Another legend says that chili was first served by the Chili Queens at their all night food stands in the plazas of San Antonio.

One thing is known for sure and that is that chili originated in Texas. In fact, the Texas Legislature voted Chili as the official state dish in 1977 and Texans fondly call this fiery stew, "a bowl of red."

In the early 1880's. W.R.Tobin, hotel proprietor and sheriff of San Antonio, sold canned chili to the U.S. Army. Then in 1884, he entered into a venture with the Range Canning Company at Fort McKavett, Texas to make chili from goat meat. Tobin died just as the first cans of the goat chili were being produced and this venture failed.

Another chili canning operation started in the 1920's in the back of a meat market in Corsicana, Texas. The company founder, Lyman T. Davis named the product for his pet wolf, Kaiser Bill. Wolf Brand Chili is still made today, and this is the canned chili preferred by Texans if they don't have time to make their own.

In the 1960's chili making assumed national status with the first Chili Cook-Off at Terlingua, Texas and the formation of the chili cook-off associations. Now a chili cook-off is held almost every week-end somewhere in the United States. The recipes run the gambit from classic chili ingredients of meat, chilies, garlic and cumin to ones that call for exotic additions as smoked salmon and truffles.

Remember, chili making is a state of mind. Here is the perfect recipe from Cheryl and Bill Jamison's book, Texas Home Cooking.
Your Own Chuck'em Chili
Serves you and your friends



In your favorite pot, chuck in some meat, spices, liquid and maybe more. Cook the mixture long and slow. Taste frequently, adding ingredients as needed. Eat enough to satisfy your appetite and age the rest overnight in the refrigerator.

Then get some long necks, soda crackers and finish off the chili with your friends while you listen to some good old Texas Swing from Asleep at the Wheel.

Chili Recipes From the Jalapeno Cafe

Find Out More About Texas Cooking with Tales From Texas Tables

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