Feeling Chilly and Thinking Chili

Here I am on a rainy and snowy Wednesday, in The Year of the Comfort Food, and with the Big Game coming up this weekend – and I’m thinking chili.

“Chile is a country of startling contrasts and extreme beauty, with attractions ranging from the towering volcanic peaks of the Andes to the ancient forests of the Lake District. There are a multitude of very good parks here, and plenty of opportunities for fine adventure travel. Chile is justly famous as the location of Torres del Paine, considered by many to be the finest nature travel destinations in all of South America.”

Ummm…no, that’s not what I meant.

“For anyone who has ever been fascinated by geography, the long, impossibly thin line of Chile has always produced a tiny moment of astonishment. Chile stretches over 4,300 km (2,700 mi) along the southwestern coast of South America, a distance roughly the same as that from San Francisco to New York, or Edinburgh to Baghdad. At the same time, its width never exceeds 240 km (150 mi), making the country more than eighteen times longer than its widest point.”

Seriously, no…stop that!

“The most obvious factor in Chile’s remarkable slenderness is the massive, virtually impassable wall of the Andes, a mountain range that is still rising and that contains more than fifty active volcanic peaks. The western border is of course the Pacific Ocean, but it is a misconception to picture Chile as nothing more than the steep western slope of the Andean peaks. All along its length Chile is marked by a narrow depression

All right – that’s enough!

(That’s the last time I have a narrator for a blog post. Sheesh.)

You know what I mean: that spicy stew of beef, chiles, onion, herbs and spices that can cause your tastebuds to go ‘Wow!’ and your insides to go ‘Owww!’

(http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bowl_of_chili.jpg)

Yeah – now THAT’S what I’m talking about!

(Dumb stupid narrator.)

Y’know, as a kid I did not like chili at all. My mom made chili with kidney beans, and at that time I wanted no part of any kidney beans – so for years, I wouldn’t even touch the stuff. But I’ve overcome my aversion to kidney beans and now enjoy chili very much.

When it comes to chili, I’m not much of a snob -that is, I don’t get upset if there are other ingredients used that are outside of what is traditionally accepted. That’s why I love chili cook-offs. I like to see chilimeisters pushing the envelope and getting creative. I once had chili at a cook-off that used spice you’d expect at an Indian restaurant (I suspect it was garam masala), and it was fabulous!

This Saturday will see two, count ’em, two chili cook-offs taking place. Mt Holly will be holding its annual Fire & Ice Festival from 11AM to 3PM. Chili brings the fire, and ice sculptures bring the, well, ice. Public tasting of the competing chili entries will start at 12PM. While that’s going on, Whole Foods in Marlton will have its own chili cook-off, with team members within the store competing against each other all in the name of fun and spicy goodness. Their cook-off will take place from 12PM to 2PM. The best part about both events? They’re free.

If you’ve gotten the chili bug and can’t wait until Saturday, then give Stacey Snacks’ chili recipe a try. She uses chorizo in her recipe, and you can’t go wrong with chorizo. Yum.

Admit it: you want to know how the fruitcake trap shoot went last weekend. Well, Alex Harcharek of A Food Coma fame covered the event for The Daily Journal.

Admit it, Part II: you want to know how the Spam cook-off turned out. We got that covered as well.

– John

Note: information on Chile was taken from: http://www.geographia.com/chile/index.htm

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