Sure, the official start of fall isn’t for another week, but to me, it’s officially autumn when it’s cool enough to make me crave a big batch of chili. Here are a few fun facts about this fall favorite:
- According to What’s Cooking America, the first recorded batch of chili con carne in America was made in 1731 by a group of women who had emigrated from the Spanish Canary Islands, which historians noted not as “chili” but as a “spicy Spanish stew.”
- The green chili pepper has been growing in the United States – what is now New Mexico – for more than 400 years.
- Chili peppers were used in ancient cuisines in Europe, the Caribbean, Asia and the Middle East.
- The International Chili Society says that chili was popularized during the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s. Cowboys and prospectors combined dried beef, fat, pepper, salt and chili peppers together into stackable rectangles or “chili bricks” that were then dumped into boiling water.
- The first chili cook-off took place in 1967 in Terlinga, Texas, a border town about 400 miles west of chili’s alleged birthplace, San Antonio. It ended in a tie between a native Texan and (surprisingly) a New Yorker, but chili cook-offs are still held there today.
- A number of variations of chili have become popularized over the years. Texas-style chili doesn’t contain beans; vegetarian chili (aka chili sin carne) typically replaces meat with corn and other vegetables; chili verde uses pork, tomatillos and green chili peppers in lieu of beef and tomatoes; and white chili uses white beans and chicken or turkey.
Hungry yet? Don’t worry – here are four tasty chili recipes to warm your belly this fall.
And we didn’t even mention the toppings… What’s required for your bowl chili – cheese or sour cream, crackers or Fritos, green onions or all of the above?