I love chili. Mom always made a giant batch and I remember it sitting on the stove, bubbling and filling the house full of delicious smells. I haven’t had a good chili like that since I left home, but once – a very good friend of mine in Taiwan made a chili to die for. (She also made a chicken soup to die for, but that’s another entry.)
On this visit back to the home continent, I had the opportunity to make up for that chili deficit by attending a local chili cookoff – my first! The Armada Fall Fest was this past weekend and the chili cookoff pitted eight contenders against each other with the general public judging them on their creations. For five dollars, each of us received a styrofoam container, a roll, eight 2 oz. samples of chili, and a voting sheet. Then the testing began.
At first, I was delighted and a little amazed at the variety, but then I remembered how much difference I saw between empanadas a month ago – and they all had the exact same ingredients! Regardless, it was neat to see difference here – some were traditional ground beef and beans, other had bits of steak in them (yum!), there were some vegetables, one even had hominy, which I had in some locro in Tucumán and I’ve found I really like. There were some simple sauces, some tomatoey sauces, spicy sauces, and one that was too salty for my taste. It was a delicious way to spend a Sunday afternoon, comparing with others and trying to narrow it down to one winner. Eventually, I had it down to two – one with a tasty sauce and lots of great ingredients (steak, corn, celery, beans) and one with an absolutely amazing sauce that was ground beef and beans. I chose the latter, Chris and her friend chose the former.
We waited around for the final results, looking at classic cars to occupy the time. The organizers kept telling us that it would just be a few minutes, but nothing ever came out of it (except hearing the DJ announce several times that someone had left their dentures somewhere and that they were in the lost and found. How do you forget dentures?). Finally, as we were headed to the parking lot, we passed the chili tables where one team of competitors were lounging around. They informed us that they had won (the one I chose!) – so much for announcements!
All in all, it was a great day. I gotta say, judging food is one of the most fun things that I can think of. So many flavours in so little time!