When the weather turns cool every autumn, I begin to crave more soups and stews, hot baked breads and casseroles. Most of all, though, I crave chili. And I know I’m not the only one.
This morning, my colleague told me she had dinner with friends last night at Beamer’s 25, a new restaurant on Salem Avenue. She ordered a bowl of their chili, which she said was very good and came in a huge portion served with bread, cheese and sour cream. She also mentioned that it’s bean-free chili, and that’s when I wrinkled my nose – because personally, I want beans in my chili.
I know, I know! I’m being inauthentic. Chili con carne (Spanish for “chili with meat”) originated in Texas, where the use of beans is largely frowned upon. They want their “bowl of red” to be thick with meat and spices, not with legumes. But as Lyle Lovett would tell me, “That’s right, you’re not from Texas.” And when I say I prefer my chili with beans, Texas might not want me anyway.
I am aware that many Americans fall into the no-beans category when it comes to chili preferences. According to those folks, the chili I make would be all kinds of bastardized. It contains several different colors of beans, as well as vegetables (onions, green peppers, chiles, sometimes even diced squash or sliced mushrooms).
But at least I’m consistent. I like hot dog chili with beans, too (gasp!). And I generally just adore beans in every way, whether they be cooked with a ham hock and served with cornbread, tossed cold onto salad, refried, or added to soups, stews and other recipes. I love beans! I’ll eat them straight out of the can. My chili recipe is based on my mother’s recipe, which always contained dark red kidney beans. After supper, I’d be caught in the kitchen picking out and eating the kidney beans. Did I mention that I love beans?
OK, since chili season is in full swing, this is a great time to conduct a little poll.
The question is simple: When it comes to chili, BEANS OR NO BEANS?