Monday, 15 October 2007

Chili Cook-Off Competition.

What the .........? Yup one of the interesting parts of cruising is the strange, nay often weird, aspects of the international cruising community's social entertainment calender.

Now we have jumped over burning rosemary bushes in Portugal, to ensure continued virility(!).
We have celebrated Independence Day for Canada, Guatemala, Panama and the United States.
We have celebrated the Summer Solstice, Winter Solstice, Halloween, Easter(Semana Santa is one of the more amazing sights as you watch streams of men wearing Klu Klux Klan type outfits flagellating themselves as they carry massive religious icons around their towns and villages).

We have watched the pilgrimage of The Black Christ in Porto Bello, Panama. Observed daily meetings of the 'Congreso' ( village council) in the San Blas islands. One vital part of this ceremony being the random screams from designated women in order to keep the audience awake!

We have eaten Christmas turkey, Thanksgiving turkey, Easter turkey. We have prepared sweets for Divali, toffee apples for Halloween, coloured eggs for Easter. Hunted down rare and prized ingredients in exotic locations.

Reveled in the discovery of British Mincemeat filling(chopped dried fruit and suet), gorged on Cabury's Dairymilk Chocolates. Fought over bottles of Rose's Lime juice cordial ah the memories!

And tonight a new experience for us, a chili competition. I had never heard of this great USA tradition so started to do a little research- that's one of the pleasures of being in a marina with good internet access.....

Well blow my little cotton socks off! This is a BIG THANG!
I have read of chili's so hot that judges now insist that the competitor taste their own chili first to ensure survival, shades of the ancient food taster tradition in the more murderous regimes of the world.
There are official world rules and regulations. The issue of 'to bean' or 'not to bean' is a whole essay in itself, probably not one I am going to peruse further.

Some say the Chili competitions started back in to 40's but it seems that the first really big reported battle was in 1967 between Carroll Shelby, designer of the Cobra motor car and Wick Fowler.

In 1967, Carroll Shelby, Wick Fowler and a few friends gathered to devise a plan to sell Shelby's ranch. Little did they know that the midday discussion would spawn a cultural phenomenon and would eventually divide them: the World Championship Chili Cook-Off.

For years, the chili cook-off was held on Shelby's land in Terlingua, Texas, and featured the chili recipes of former competitors Wick Fowler and Carroll Shelby. The event continued to gain popularity and was later showcased on the CBS Evening News.

However, seven years after its inception Carroll Shelby, unbeknownst to others, was granted a trademark for the "World Championship Chili Cook-Off." From that moment on, he declared the event would be held just outside of Los Angeles, California in the Tropico Gold Mine. Wick Fowler and the others did not wish to move the event and remained in Terlingua.

A few years later, the Wick Fowler faction renamed the initial event as "The Original Terlingua International Chili Cook-Off."

Today, two cook-offs claim to be the "true" world championship, and Wick Fowler and Carroll Shelby eventually put their differences behind them. However, their chili mixes still engage in friendly competition .

My sympathies must be with Shelby, he has the status of 'god' in our household due to the design of the Cobra. We were fortunate enough in that lifetime before cruising to drive one of his awesome vehicles, life was never the same again!

Anyway back to the cook-off! Excitement mounts here at Mario's...........
This time I will be observing as the experienced contestants roll out their secret ol' family recipes, next time I'll be in there having a go too!

I have added Shelby's original chili recipe to the side bar on the left hand side of the page. Just scroll down and you'll find it.

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