In honor of Delray GreenMarket’s 17th Annual Chili Cook-off, we thought it would be fun to find out how this delicious concoction of beans, meats, spices, cheese and veggies came to be.
According to the International Chili Society (yes, that actually does exist), the origin of chili seems to have its own bowl full of spicy and controversial beginnings; and who serves up the best bowl in history may forever be an unanswered question and area of debate.
It is said that chili began “…somewhere west of Laramie, Wyoming 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. The mixture of meat, beans, peppers, and herbs was known to the Incas, Aztecs, and Mayan Indians long before Columbus and the conquistadores.”(Source: International Chili Society)
YIKES! Thank goodness for the Industrial Revolution.
So the age-old question of where it all began may be up to debate. But, there are a few things we do know:
Fact: Chile peppers were used in Cervantes’s Spain and show up in great ancient cuisines of China, India, Indonesia, Italy, the Caribbean, France, and the Arab states. (Source: International Chili Society)
Fact: Don Juan de Onate entered what is now New Mexico in 1598 and brought with him the green Chile pepper. It has grown there for the nearly four hundred years since. (Source: International Chili Society)
Fact: Canary Islanders, transplanted in San Antonio as early as 1723, used local peppers, wild onions, garlic, and other spices to concoct pungent meat dishes – improvising upon ones they had cooked for generations in their native land, where the Chile pepper also grew. (Source: International Chili Society)
We also know that in 1998, Chris Brown, the former CRA director, started the Delray GreenMarket’s Annual Chili Cook-Off, and Lori Nolan the GreenMarket’s current GM, has carried on the tradition ever-since.
“The chili cook-off has always been a popular event for both professional and home chefs to really showcase their chili creativity,” said Nolan. “Everyone enjoyes the camaraderie between the chili lovers and chili creators. It’s always a spicy good time!”
This year the battle for bragging rights and the best chili (at least in Delray Beach) will be quite heated. Amongst the 13 entrants: Jarrett Jackson, Hank Langa, Joe Farrell, Jim Nolan, Inika Foods, Carolina Ale House, Dave McBride, Mary Schroeder, Lisa Mark, Nancy Simon & Sally Poe Hackman, John Hackman, Steve Savino and Susan Shaw.
The 17th Annual Chilli Cook-off is this Saturday, February 22 from 10-12pm at the Old School Square Park. Entry is FREE and samplings from the competitors will be given out. So come dance along to Heidi and the El Cats, while sampling unique and scrumptious chili dishes, voting on your favorite and do some shopping with all the varied vendors at the Market.