John M. Williams <>

Chili H. Allen Smith

"Make sure you have good meat--three pounds of lean chuck, or round, or tenderloin tips. Be sure the meat is trimmed down to where there is not a shred of gristle in it. Texans are great gristle-eaters [sic]and I find most of their chili inferior for that and other reasons. The poor creatures just don't know any better. Out, then with all gristle! Have the meat coarse-ground. Sear it in an iron kettle. If you don't have an iron kettle you are not civilized; go out and get one. Don't break up the chunks of beef. It is good to have lumpy meat in your chili. When you've got it seared, add one or two small cans of tomato paste or tomato sauce or if you want to use fresh or canned tomatoes put them through a colander. Now chop one or two onions and, if you hanker for it, half a bell pepper. Add these ingredients to the pot with about a quart of water. Crush a couple or more cloves of garlic and then add about half a teaspoon of oregano, maybe a couple pinches of sweet basil, and a quarter teaspoon of cumin or cumin powder. Now put in some salt and for a starter, two tablespoons of chili powder. If you can get the Chimayo ground chilies, packaged in Albuquerque, do so by all means. I will speak of it later, for I think it is the best I've ever used. Sometimes when they are available I use chili pods but don't be skittish about using a good brand of chili powder. Simmer your chili for an hour and a half or longer, adding some Ac'cent to sharpen the flavor, and then abut ten minutes from conclusion, add your beans. Use pinto beans if you can get them; if they are not available, canned kidney beans will do. Simmer a bit longer. Doing some tasting and, as the Gourmet Cookbook has it, "correct seasoning." When you've got it right, to suit your personal taste, let it set a while. It will taste better the second day, still better the third, and absolutely superb the fourth. Texans consider it a bloody sacrilege to cook beans with their chili. I say they're all daft. They also scream bloody murder at the idea of any sweet pepper being included. You'll have to make up your own mind--just don't let their raucous way of talking overpower you. One final personal note: I cannot eat chili without a large glass of cold milk at my elbow. No beer, no water, no wine--just cold milk.

I deem it a pleasure to have given you my recipe for chili. I can only say in conclusion that some people are born to the tragic life. There are three distressing physiological mistakes made by nature: The vermiform appendix, the prostate gland, and the utter inability of many people to eat chili because of delicate digestive tracts.

I really bleed for them.

The End

Thus the Pragmatic Sanction. I think the thesis is clear, the writing is pellucid, the prose is limpid, there can be no mistake about the leitmotiv--the principal argument. The mood is sustained and adequately subjunctive. Let us be conservative and say what we have here is a prose poem. And the argument is: every man who cooks chili believes with all his heart that his chili is infinitely superior to all other chili on earth."

Beef Picadillo

Cover meat with water, add salt and pepper, and simmer covered for 30 minutes. Add rest of ingredients. Cook covered until potatoes are done. Drain off excess liquid, and serve in a chafing dish with Fritos or baked tortilla wedges.

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