Monday, February 06, 2012

Wisconsin 101:Of course they put macaroni in their chili doesn't everyone?

SH and I went to the Milwaukee Chili Cookoff.

We try to do cultural things. Otherwise, we get boring. Life isn't all Season Three of Friday Night Lights and Fritos. Sometimes, you need meat.

Which is where I am going with this, or at least part of this.

Blesstheir hearts, there were some contestants who were serving vegetarian chili.

I'm surprised spellcheck didn't delete that phrase with the comment that there is no such thing as chili without meat.

No disrespect, vegetarians, but what you are eating and calling chili is not chili. It's vegetable soup.

And there's nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. But it's like calling a chocolate chip cookie made without chocolate chips - maybe with carob, maybe with TVP - a chocolate chip cookie.

It's just not the same. It's a regular cookie without chocolate. There is room in the universe for many kinds of cookies. Just call it what it is.

The East Side vegetarian restaurant was offering their vegetarian chili.

I will not use their name because I do not want to insult them to their face.

When we walked past their booth, the lady asked us if we wanted to try their chili.

We had only eight tickets each and there were dozens of booths, so we politely declined.

"Oh, just take some," she said as she handed us a little cup.

Blessherheart we figured out quickly why she was giving it away.

It was not my favorite.

While SH stood between me and the lady, I sneaked around to the trash can. As soon as I was sure she wasn't watching and couldn't see around SH, I threw it away.

My people, you know I do not waste food. Ever. Even the grilled sardines. I scraped the cooked guts out of those sardines and fed the meat to the cats. I do not waste food. I gasp in horror when I see people throwing away leftovers just because they're tired of them. So? Stick it in the freezer! You know it has to be bad for me to throw something away.

Fortunately, SH liked the bratwurst chili with the sauerkraut topping, so that didn't go to waste. I liked the sound of it but the execution not so much.

We paid an entrance fee and then got eight tickets each. "Each ticket gets us a three-ounce sample of chili," SH said. "That's an awful lot of chili."

I agreed.

"Maybe we should take some tupperware with us," he suggested.

I love this man. He gets me. If we are going to get 48 ounces total of chili, do we want to make ourselves sick eating it all in one hour or do we want to taste and test and move on, saving the rest for later?

We sampled. We tasted and then poured the remainder into the tupperwares.

Not one person gave us a second look.

Not one person laughed at us.

You know why?

Because I am with My People here. The city of Milwaukee actually ran a budget surplus during the Depression because Germans do not mess around with money. They do not waste. To them, it makes sense to take tupperware to a chili cookoff. One lady saw us and said, "What a great idea! I wish I'd thought of that."

I liked the tenderloin chili with the orange gremolata. We both laughed at the claim of "Milwaukee's spiciest chili," although perhaps the cook meant spicy in the sense of "lots of spice" as opposed to "picante." Who knows? We both loved the Indian chili.

But we agreed that the ten-pepper bacon chili was the best. We had three tickets remaining. We had three empty tupperwares yet. Two were full, one with bean chili, one without. You remember SH doesn't like beans unless they are black beans or sometimes white beans as long as they are not too mushy and Marilyn's hopping john with black eyed peas wasn't bad at all.

We took an empty tupperware - 10 oz - to the ten-pepper chili guy. "How many tickets to fill this?" we asked. "We like yours the best."

He smiled. "One," he said.

Well OK. We weren't about to argue, although we did just to be polite. But he insisted.

Then we used the other tickets for the Indian chilis. Now we have food for days. The end.


Jen on the Edge said...

Vegetarian chili is a figment of someone's imagination, because such a beast does not exist. If there's no meat in it, then it's not chili.

Beryl said...

Absolute genius bringing a container for the extra. I love the idea of 10 Pepper Bacon Chili and will be working on a recipe for it today. I already have 6 different types unless you count some of the pickled ones like Banana Pepper slices (which are necessary for any sub type sandwich), and then I actually have 10. My husband's favorite movie it Tin Cup, in which Kevin Costner sits in a Waffle Shop and tell Rene Russo that the reason they are there is because these are (as he surveys the room) "my people." This is a reoccurring theme for us, often being reworked (like at the Porter Peach Festival where some of the residents had more limbs than teeth) to the more accurate "not our people".

Joy said...

Awesome. I take tupperware to events at the law school that I know are going to have lots of leftover catered food that would otherwise go to waste, and some people have given me funny looks, but the folks who also grew up in the Midwest--they get it. And after the first time they saw me do it, they brought tupperware, too.

In case SH has not done so already, I have to point out that the mayor of Milwaukee during the Great Depression was a bona fide socialist.

Class factotum said...

Jen, you are correct. There is nothing wrong with picante vegetable stew, but it is not chili, in the same way that tofu bacon is not bacon.

Beryl, bless their toothless heads. I always feel so sorry for people who don't have the money to go to the dentist. I have nightmares about my teeth falling out. PS Let me know how the chili turns out.

Joy, I try to remember to keep a ziplock in my purse at all times because you never know when you will save food from being thrown out. It is a crime to throw away food when people are hungry.

SH has made me well aware of the political party in power during the Depression! However, he and I do agree that the more local you get, the less ideology matters. What I want from my mayor is for the roads to be good and the trash to be picked up. If there were a socialist running today who could balance a budget like those guys back then, I would vote for him!

Anonymous said...

Critics called Milwaukee's socialism at that time "sewer socialism." The only things that the local government could control were municipal services, so the socialists put their energy into making those services efficient. Mayor Dan Hoan bragged so much about the city's sewer system that more radical socialists thought they were putting it down by calling it "sewer socialism." Actually that was great praise. Milwaukee really did have a great sewer system at the time. Not so much now.

Class factotum said...

Anon, I would be thrilled to have perfect sewers now. I have not enjoyed our almost annual basement flood.