Read The Laughing Chef's bio and previous
May 21, 2008
Is It Chili or Is It
Few have considered the circumstances that give us the
deep, philosophical question, Is it chili, or is it pasta? Indeed,
most people have not yet asked themselves the question about when food
acquires self-awareness, a critical precursor to questions of identity.
We shall seek to address
the second question. If you are the kind of person who cannot fathom the
first, perhaps this is the time to go do something else. Might I suggest
hugging your children, for someplace questions are being contemplated
that might cause you to question your loyalty to your own family unit.
Answering this question
really involves understanding the structure of the thing itself. That
starts at the root, with ground meat of some kind.
Chop some onion and
garlic cloves. Add some cumin and a dash of cayenne pepper. Slowly,
surely, an identity is forming here. Yet, having gotten this far, you
know that the end of this will stand not a butler with a candlestick,
but a question of unprecedented depth.
Once the meat has
browned, add some oregano and several chopped-up tomatoes. Also add some
chopped green pepper. When the tomatoes have cooked down somewhat, you
will also want to add some frozen corn, a chopped jalapeno pepper and
tomato paste to thicken things up and add a rich darkness to the red
You could go one of two
directions here. You could add canned kidney beans and you would have a
clear answer to the question we all know is coming. That, however, would
be a cop out, something too ugly and smelly to let stay inside the
Instead, boil some water
and add to it a box of spaghetti. It will take from eight to 10 minutes
for it to cook to proper al dente firmness, then drain.
Scientists have yet to
take the inherent lesson here and apply it to questions of why it is
that a person appears to have a more vibrant, complex personality than a
paramecium. It is because while the paramecium may be constituted
entirely of browned ground meat, a person is likely to have several
other ingredients that prompt a number of different paradoxes and
incongruencies that provoke inner conflict and questions of identity.
The final step in this is
to blend together the sauce and the pasta. You could have stopped, but
naturally curiosity drove you forward. Your creation lies before you,
half pasta, half chili, a dish with a mind that will spend the rest of
its life trying to divine its purpose. The internal conflict will be
evident from the moment you apply the tip of your tongue to it, so full
of heat is it.
At last, we reach the end
and the question, Is it chili, or is it pasta? We will apply the only
appropriate answer, one as puzzling as the question itself. We will say,
It is not pie. But, with a wink, we will acknowledge that it goes well
with garlic bread.
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