26 September 2005
Take your musical fruit elsewhere
Just to be sure, I called up the CASI Rules, and here it is:
2. NO FILLERS IN CHILI Beans, macaroni, rice, hominy, or other similar ingredients are not permitted.
And dissimilar ingredients, I submit, are even worse. (Pineapple? You might as well toss in a handful of alfalfa, or a couple of Posted at 3:48 PM to Worth a Fork
prunes dried plums.)
What? But, beans in chili are actually good! (Though rice, macaroni, hominy, breadcrumbs, etc, are all evil, I'll admit.)
I don't think I'd reject a bowl of red out of hand for the presence of beans, but it would never occur to me to put them into my own chili pot.
That "alfalfa" business seemed vaguely familiar once I'd typed it in, and after a little searching, I found where I'd seen it: H. Allen Smith's so-called "Pragmatic Sanction," an article in Holiday magazine with the modest title "Nobody Knows More About Chili Than I Do." Since I am devoted to Smith, it seems inevitable that I should swipe from him, I suppose.
Here's what H. Allen had to say:
"There are friends incarnate, mostly in Texas, who put chopped celery in their chili, and the Dallas journalist Frank X. Tolbert, who has been touted as the Glorious State's leading authority on chili, throws in corn meal. Heaven help us one and all! You might as well throw in some puffed rice, or a handful of shredded alfalfa, or a few Maraschino cherries."
Mr Smith, incidentally, prefers his chili with beans:
"Mr. Tolbert of Dallas, who appears to be spokesman for the group called the International Chili Appreciation Society, declares that acceptable chili should contain no tomatoes, no onions, and no beans. This is a thing that passeth all understanding, going full speed. It offends my sensibility and violates my mind. Mr. Tolbert criticizes Lyndon Johnson's chili recipe because it leaves out beef suet and includes tomatoes and onions. Yet the President's chili contains no beans. To create chili without beans, either added to the pot or served on the side, is to flout one of the basic laws of nature. I've been told that when I was a baby and it came time to wean me, I was fed Eagle Brand Milk with navy beans frappéd into it. Thereafter, all through childhood and adolescence, I ate beans three for four times a week. If Chili Bill, back there in Illinois, had served his chili without beans, I would surely have deserted him and bought chocolate sodas for my lunch."
I look up to Smith, but I don't walk behind him. (All this eventually appeared in Smith's book The Great Chili Confrontation, published in 1969.)