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A Tribute to Chili

Updated on April 8, 2014

Chili - The Spicy Stew America Loves!

What I love most about Chili, is that no two people make it the same way. Chili comes in so many varieties it makes your head spin. Everyone has their own "secret recipe" and their own way to serve it.

One of my favorite vacation activities, is to drive around some little town in search of a greasy little diner. You know the place, they have stools at the counter, booths with red pleather seats and the whole place smells like fried onions.

I love to go in and order a cup of chili. I never get the bowl, just in case it's really bad chili, and sometimes it is. Other times, it is fantastic, and no matter what, it is always a one of a kind taste sensation. It's just so much fun to taste test all the various ways people make chili. Sometimes it had weird beans, sometimes spicy, sometimes kind of sweet and sometimes it's chunky tomato soup. No matter how many places you go, you will never get the same cup of chili twice.

This lens is a celebration of that spicy stew, we all love and know as Chili!

The Many Faces of the word "Chili"

Chili ~ Chilli ~ Chile

No matter how you spell it, the word "chili" can be used for the spicy stew, the peppers or even the Country!

The History Of Chili

From the time the second person on earth mixed some chile peppers with meat and cooked them, the great chili debate was on; more of a war, in fact. The desire to brew up the best bowl of chili in the world is exactly that old.

Perhaps it is the effect of Capisicum spices upon man's mind; for, in the immortal words of Joe DeFrates, the only man ever to win the National and the World Chili Championships, "Chili powder makes you crazy." That may say it all. To keep things straight, chile refers to the pepper pod, and chili to the concoction. The e and the i of it all.

The great debate, it seems, is not limited to whose chili is best. Even more heated is the argument over where the first bowl was made; and by whom. Estimates range from "somewhere west of Laramie," in the early nineteenth century - being a product of a Texas trail drive - to a grisly tale of enraged Aztecs, who cut up invading Spanish conquistadors, seasoned chunks of them with a passel of chile peppers, and ate them.

Never has there been anything mild about chili.

Except from the "History Of Chili" according to the International Chili Society. To Learn more please visit: International Chili Society

Chili Nation

Chili Nation
Chili Nation

Jane and Michael Stern document that every state in the Union has its own approach to chili, the Texas-created national dish.

Devotees of the original "bowl of red" may fume in protest that Maryland's shrimp and crabmeat in cream sauce lightly rouged with chili powder stretches the definition of chili beyond the breaking point. Michigan's Upper Peninsula stuffs its miners' pasties with chili instead of the traditional meat and rutabaga filling. Washington State spikes its chili with plenty of coffee.

Florida crosses chili with Cuban picadillo. Vermont mellows out the bite of chili peppers with maple syrup. And what does Hawaii do? Naturally, it studs its chili with chunks of macadamia nuts. One can read this book as the triumph of spicy cooking across the breadth of America or as a perversion of authentic ethnic cookery. ~ Mark Knoblauch (Amazon Book Review)


Chili Peppers Muy Calientes Metal Sign

Bean or No Beans?

In our family chili had beans!

Though many chili purists insist that "real chili" has no beans. People all over the world have their own ways of making and serving chili.

In Cincinatti, Ohio they even eat their chili over spaghetti noodles with shredded cheese and oyster crackers and call it "Cincinatti Style Chili."

Some people even use macaroni noodles instead of beans and make it like a casserole.

To Learn more about different styles of chili and another version of chili history, check out: More Fun Chili History

The Great Bean Debate!

Does your ideal chili have beans in it or not?

No! Real Chili is bean free!

No! Real Chili is bean free!

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    • roamingrosie 8 years ago

      Well, I usually put beans in my chili for the extra nutrients... BUT the real star is the meat and I love no-bean chili!

    • Nochipra 8 years ago

      No, I don't like beans in my chili at all!

    • jdluntjr 8 years ago

      Texas Style Chili - No Beans

    • EpicOne 8 years ago

      Bean free! Bean free!

    Yes! It's not Chili without the beans!

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      • Zut Moon 5 years ago

        U betcha ya ... how can you have the final result without them ... LOL

      • Sniff It Out 8 years ago

        Oh you have to have beans in a chili!

      • Treasures By Brenda 8 years ago from Canada

        Yes beans and tons of peppers, too!

      • KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

        I'm a vegetarian, so my chili is all beans!

      • hlkljgk 8 years ago from Western Mass

        of course. and it also has no meat. :)

      • anonymous 8 years ago

        What Chilli without beans - nah!

      • Dianne Loomos 8 years ago

        Chili must have kidney beans and pinto beans...and sausage!

      • ThomasC 8 years ago

        Ghili? without beans? That wouldn't be Chili then! More like sloppy joes or something!

      • Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

        No beans? No beans! Chili MUST have beans. There, I have spoken.

      • nekoneko 8 years ago

        i like with no beans.. corms!!!

      Caleca Chili Peppers - 16-Piece Dinnerware Set, Service for 4

      Chili Madness

      Chili Madness: A Passionate Cookbook- More Than 130 New Recipes! 2nd Edition
      Chili Madness: A Passionate Cookbook- More Than 130 New Recipes! 2nd Edition

      This book will fire up a whole new generation of chili fanatics.

      Of the 160-plus recipes, more than 130 are brand-new. Here are classics, including Reno Red and Navajo Green and Buzzard's Breath Chili, as well as newfangled bowls like Moroccan Chili and White Lobster Chili.

      To accompany the main event are savory breads (Bacon Crumble Cornbread); tempting sidekicks (Hot 'n' Spicy Okra, Red Hot Sweet Potato Lace); fire-taming salads (Crispy Cilantro Coleslaw); and margaritas, of course. (Six kinds!)

      Luscious desserts such as Double Chocolate Farmer's Cakes provide the perfect sweet ending, while chili leftovers are reinvented in crowd-pleasers like Texas-Style Burritos.


      Mystic Mama's Chili

      We Like it Spicy!



      2 pounds ground beef

      1 large onion diced

      1 tsp. each: garlic powder ~ black pepper ~ cinnamon

      1/2 tsp. each: seasoned salt ~ hot chili powder ~ cumin


      2 quart can of tomato juice

      8 oz. can of tomato paste

      1 can dark kidney beans

      1 can light kidney beans

      2 cans hot chili beans

      2-6 diced jalapeno or serrano peppers

      1 pkg. chili seasoning

      1 tsp. each: garlic powder ~ black pepper ~ cinnamon ~ sugar ~ parsley

      1/2 tsp. each: seasoned salt ~ cayenne pepper ~ adobo ~ epazote ~ oregano


      Brown the meat with the meat spices, when meat is almost done toss in the onions, mix once and take off heat.

      In big pot mix meat with all other ingredients. Bring to a boil and then turn down to low and simmer for a couple of hours.

      Serve over cornbread

      Chili Pots

      I have a chili pot that I only use for chili. It's an extra large aluminum pot, that once belonged to my great-grandmother. She used it for her "New Year's Day" Ragout, but now it's my big ol' chili pot.

      Some people swear by caste iron pots for chili, others like to go with slow cookers and crock-pots. For a lot of people, the pot they cook the chili in, is almost as important as the "secret" recipe.

      My only real requirement for a good chili pot is size. Mine is a 2-gallon pot, with room for lots of chili!

      Cornbread, Crackers or Noodles?

      In my family, it's just not chili without the corn bread. We put a slice of cornbread right in the bowl and pour the chili right over it. Then add some shredded cheddar and raw onions and Yum!

      In most restaurants, chili is served with saltine crackers on the side, though that also varies depending on what city you are in. Some of the different variations of how people serve and eat their chili are:

      Over noodles ~ topped with fritos ~ over rice ~ over french fries ~ with crackers ~ over nachos ~ over hot dogs ~ over cornbread ~ with macaroni ~ over baked potatoes ~ over hamburgers

      There really is no limit to the things you can do with chili. A favorite treat in our family was chili pancakes. My Dad would make cornbread pancakes and we would pour chili over them, top them with cheese, onions and sour cream...deliscious and fun!

      How Do You Eat Your Chili?

      What is your favorite way to eat chili?

      See results

      Secret Ingredients

      I personally, don't really have a "secret ingredient" in my chili, but my Dad always uses dried pinto beans that he soaks over-night in beer. Lots of people do have "secret ingedients" that they believe makes their chili the best.

      Some of these ingredients can seem pretty strange, others sound pretty good. Here are some of the more popular secret ingredients people use: oregano, peanut butter, pineapple, bananas, oranges, tomatillos, beer, chorizo, cocoa, chocolate, Bar-B-Q sauce, coffee, tequila, cola, hoisin sauce, honey, cinnamon, saffron, molasses, vinegar, wine, whiskey, cocoa, bourbon, or curry powder.

      I actually use quite a few of those ingredients, but never thought of them as "secret ingredients" because that's just how I make chili.

      Chili Connoisseur's Collection

      Chili Connoisseur's Collection
      Chili Connoisseur's Collection

      Looking for a way to kick up your old chili recipe?

      This box is for you-includes Hell on the Red Chili Fixin', Gebhardt Chili Powder, Brooks Mild Chili Seasoning, French's Chili-O Original,Lawry Chili Mix 1.48 oz, Morton's Chili Blend 8 oz, Mexene Chili Powder 3 oz, Wick Fowler 2 Alarm Chili Mix, Wick Fowler False Alarm Chili Mix, and Carroll Shelby Chili Kit.

      Product arranged in cardboard box with Best You Ever Ate Chili imprinted on lid.


      Throw A Chili Cook-Off Party!

      A Fun Potluck Idea!

      A chili cook-off party is a great alternative to the same old potluck.

      Send out invitations that give guests a chioce between bringing their "secret recipe" chili or a dish to share.

      Serve the chili in small beverage cups, so everyone can try each kind.

      Give each guest a "secret ballot" card (index cards work great) so each guest can vote for their favotite chili. You can even have catagories like: hottest, tastiest, most unusual, etc...

      Have prize ribbons or inexpensive prizes for the winners.

      Decorate with lots of fun "chili pepper" and "fiesta" decorations.

      A pinata can also be a fun chili cook-off party activity!

      Check out these fun party supplies!

      Share Your "Chili" Secrets! - Thanks for visiting, please take a moment to share your chili secrets, thoughts, favorites or just say hello!

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        • profile image

          Grandad52 5 years ago

          We eat chili even in the summer. If you can find Texas On The Halfshell book it has some good info too and some good BBQ, Cornbread etc.

        • Zut Moon profile image

          Zut Moon 5 years ago

          Why do they call it Chilli when the best way to eat it is HOT ???

        • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

          MargoPArrowsmith 7 years ago

          And what deserves a tribute more than chili? This should be be a lens of the day!

          BTW, the best way to eat chili is with a glass of ice cold milk! 5*

        • amy1980 profile image

          amy1980 7 years ago

          As a Texan, I was given chili in my bottle. Or something. Definitely a dish that deserves a tribute!

        • profile image

          julieannbrady 8 years ago

          I love chili and recently made it for our office Friday cook-in. We had two large crockpots going. Chili isn't just for cold weather.

        • Sniff It Out profile image

          Sniff It Out 8 years ago

          Nicely done, visually attractive lens... and I love chili so thats a bonus :)

        • roamingrosie profile image

          roamingrosie 8 years ago

          Mmm... you're lens is making me hungry! :) My favorite way to enjoy chili is to make it spicy and then top it off with some shredded cheddar cheese and a scoop of sour cream to balance out the spiciness!

        • TreasuresBrenda profile image

          Treasures By Brenda 8 years ago from Canada

          Blessed, too!

        • TreasuresBrenda profile image

          Treasures By Brenda 8 years ago from Canada

          Welcome to the Culinary Favorites From A to Z group. Your lens is being featured in the C is for Chili section but don’t forget to come back and add your lens to the link list so that you can benefit from a second link!


        • KimGiancaterino profile image

          KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

          I'm seeing so many chili and chili pepper lenses lately... must be the weather. Very nice job on this one!

        • SusannaDuffy profile image

          Susanna Duffy 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

          Well I have learned something today - chili comes in cans. I had no idea!

        • VladimirCat profile image

          Vladimir 8 years ago from Australia

          My secret recipe for chili is to leave it out entirely. I must say I was shocked, yes - shocked, at the very subject of this 5* star top-class lens.

        • Kylyssa profile image

          Kylyssa Shay 8 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

          Grrr, glurgle, glup... You are making my stomach growl. I just made my shopping list and as soon as my next payday comes, I'm having chili!

          Great lens, awesome photos. 5*

        • hlkljgk profile image

          hlkljgk 8 years ago from Western Mass

          nice work! i feel like chili tonite. :)

        • Nochipra profile image

          Nochipra 8 years ago

          Great lens! Very colorful, I like it a lot:)

        • Karicor profile image

          Karicor 8 years ago

          Love the lens intro picture! Chili doesn't have much of a history in our family but your lens makes me want to try out some recipes. Hot stuff!

        • FunGifts4All profile image

          FunGifts4All 8 years ago

          Another great job. Keep it up!!!

        • Dianne Loomos profile image

          Dianne Loomos 8 years ago

          You're makin' me hungry! Just made a batch of chili a couple days ago. Yum! A pretty, colorful lens.

        • Ramkitten2000 profile image

          Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

          Those touch-down chili bowls are a gas! (heh-heh, get it?) And who'd ever THINK of making chili without beans? That's just ... just ... wrong.

        • Mihaela Vrban profile image

          Mihaela Vrban 8 years ago from Croatia

          Well, my husband has Hungarian blood so he adores hot food. Have to make him your recipe some time! :)

        • cineteq profile image

          John Parr 8 years ago from Montreal

          I'm off to eat some chili thank you!!!!! 5 stars!