Chili mania focuses very simply on a bowl of chili. It is a craving, a passion, and obsession for a simmered combination of meat and chile peppers whose distinctive aroma makes an indelible imprint on the senses. Even the word "chili" is exciting to a chli lover, for it evokes the memories of a dish that warms the heart and embraces the body in an aura of sensuous satisfaction. Chili is the ambrosia of modern man.
No one knows who made the first pot of chili. Much of the background information for the origin of chlii is lost in antiquity or clouded by legend and romantic tales.
One of the most convincing stories revolves around chuckwagon cooks who prepared their own brand of stew for the cowboys of the southwest. Folklore has it that one of these cooks ran out of the customary black pepper. In his search for a substitute, he came across some red peppers commonly in use among the Indians or Mexicans of the territory that is now southwest Texas. These peppers were violently hot, principally because they had not yet been domesticated by agricultural technologists.
Likely enough, the cook employed the same quantity of red pepper that he had been using of black. When the cowboys complained about the intensity of the red pepper stew, they were advised that the heat of the dish was generated by the "chile" - a generic term which refers to hot peppers. As time passed, the searing stew was acknowledged as an entity in its own right, and "chili" was born.
Chili became so popular that chili parlors and chili cookoffs were a natural offshoot. A chili cooking duel which began in jest between the late humorist H. Allen Smith and the late Texas journalist Wick Fowler in 1967 has mushroomed into a series of annual local and statewide competitions, culminating in major international contests.
Chili lovers flock to the Wick Fowler Memorial Chili Cookoff in Terlingua, Texas on the first Saturday and Sunday in November, an event sponsored by the Chili Appreciation Society Internaional. There is also a World Championship Chili Cookoff held in California in October Check with the Internationa Chili Society for dates and locations (as location changes from year to year).