Friday, February 4, 2011

Chili (reprise)

Eastside Road, February 4, 2011—
TONIGHT THERE'S A LITTLE more time, so I take the trouble to consult the Wikipedia entry. Absolutely fascinating, of course. In the first place, as I should have remembered, the name of the dish is Chile con carne; "Chili with beans" is a poor approximation. (As to the distinction between chili-with-an-"i" and chile-with-an-"e", well, there'll never be enough time for that.)

Chili, or chile, is clearly a complex dish with as controversial a definition and history as, for example, cassoulet, which I've also been thinking a lot about recently. Perhaps if one made a chili as carefully and thoughtfully as we, for example, make cassoulet, when we do, then the chili would turn out to be as deep and rewarding as a cassoulet. Apparently the ur-chili consisted of beef and chile peppers. As Wikipedia says,
Chili was first invented by the Spanish Canary Islanders, in the city of San Antonio, Texas, which they founded. The recipe used for American expeditions consisted of dried beef, suet, dried chili peppers (usually chilipiquenes), and salt, which were pounded together and left to dry into bricks, which could then be boiled in pots on the trail.
Clearly much would depend on the nature of the beef, the suet, and the peppers. Lyndon Johnson's favoring venison over today's beef makes a good deal of sense: corn-based feedlots have little to do with chile con carne. (Again, the reference is owed to Wikipedia.)

I think it's partly the pervasive appearance of much debased versions of chili [con carne] [with beans], and partly the (perhaps therefore) less settled agreement, even among factions, as to what the dish authentically really is, that I'm reluctant to award it Hundred Plates status. Clearly Meat And Beans is one of the Hundred, but that's far too general a statement to be admitted as either Principle or Policy. So I'll just dodge it for the moment.

Whatever, we finished it tonight, and it was a little better than last night, which is to be expected. Before it, the last of yesterday's guacamole (which L. decided is, in fact, one of the Hundred Plates). After it, green salad.
Syrah, Lagranja 360, Cariñena, 2009

By the way, I've posted photos of night-before-last's dinner at Alice's online here.

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