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February 4, 2009
Chili and Chilly:
Complementary But Not Homophonic
Some people might wonder whether it is more than
coincidence that chili is a food best eaten when it is chilly outside.
You may eat chili when it is hot outside, but all you are likely to do
is make a big, sweaty mess out of yourself.
The heat of the food is one of the primary reasons that
will happen. A bowl of steaming hot stew and a steaming hot day form a
couple that may clash and use your body as a battlefield. This is
coupled with the natural heat caused by the core at the heart of the
food – the chile pepper.
Yet, chili and chilly have a different kind of
relationship. It is complementary, while at the same time touching in
its homophonic nature.
Although stories about the first bowl of chili are today
just legend – records from that period are spotty at best – today, we
know that a pot of chili typically incorporates three elements, the
pepper, meat and beans. Some will suggest that you can opt out of one of
those three. If others wish to do that, let them go down that path.
Today, we stick to the tried and familiar.
Although the meat most generally associated with chili is
beef, you may – if the mood strikes you – substitute chopped pork. This
is not ground pork, because if we are going to go off the beef
reservation, we may as well go all the way off. Most people associate
ground beef with chili, and we will blow their minds instead with pork
chops cut into small pieces.
Brown this as you would with any other kind of chili meat,
in oil with garlic, onions and cumin. Students of advanced cumin studies
can explain to you the taste difference between cumin added early on and
cumin added late. For us, we proceed to the point where the onion is
soft and the pork is browned and to where you add some diced jalapeno
peppers, stewed tomatoes, cayenne pepper and dried oregano.
Is there something missing? There is. Your pot of chili is
currently light on the bean element. Let us change that.
Add some black-eyed peas, and some water for them to cook
in. Your ears may perk up at such a suggestion. A pea in a pot of chili
. . . with browned pork? What will they think of next, you ask yourself
. . . jumbo shrimp?
Like chili and chilly, they complement each other – just
not in a homophonic way.
If you have presoaked your peas or even cooked them ahead
of time, you will have a short wait until lunch. If not, your lunch will
be delayed by several hours. Consider planning further ahead next time.
When the peas begin to approach softness conducive to
eating, add some frozen corn. This will not only add a vegetable that
all elements are comfortable and happy around, but some needed flecks of
color in a sea of reds and browns.
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