Lone Star Literary Life Blog Tours
TEXAS IS CHILI COUNTRY
Texans love to eat, and one dish they can’t get enough of is chili—so much so that chili con carne is Texas’s state meal. This seemingly simple staple of Texan identity proves to be anything but, however. Beans or no beans? Beef, pork, or turkey? From a can or from scratch?
Texas Is Chili Country is a brief look at the favored fare—its colorful history, its many incarnations, and the ways it has spread both across the country and the world. The history includes chuckwagon chili, the chili queens of San Antonio, the first attempts at canned chili, the development of chili societies and the subsequent rivalries between them, and the rise of chili cook-offs.
And what would a book about chili be without recipes? There are no-fat recipes, vegan recipes, and recipes from Mexican-American cooks who have adapted this purely American food. Some have been tried, but many are taken on faith. Recipes are included from state celebrities such as Ladybird Johnson, Governor Ma Ferguson, and chili king Frank Tolbert.
Who knew there was so much to say about chili that it can fill a whole book? Obviously recipe books can be filled with one dish, but I have a feeling that this one is different from the rest. It’s more of a history book with recipes running right down the middle of it (literally). As I learned about chili’s backstory, my mouth watered as I realized that I haven’t had “good” chili before. Not only does this book inspire me to track down authentic chili at a restaurant, I also want to try out some of the celebrity recipes as well. If you love chili, this book is for you. Interestingly enough, the whole thing culminates with some beer history. Perhaps that is Alter’s subliminal suggestion that you wash it all down with a nice cold Texas brew.
Judy Alter retired from Texas Christian University Press after thirty years, twenty of them as director. At the same time she developed her own writing career, focusing primarily on women of the American West. Now she writes fiction and nonfiction for all ages. She lives in Fort Worth.
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