Culinary conundrum: Is it chili or beans?

Move over Mary C! This is going to be a foodie column this week.  On Father’s Day, the folks at the Latter-Day Saint Church in La Sal hosted a community “Chili” potluck. It was well-attended.
I don’t know if folks are especially fond of chili or were just hankering for some socialization. Probably both.
It was interesting since it was the men – the fathers – who were encouraged to cook up the pots of chili for the event. Others brought side dishes to accompany the fare.
This debate arises each time there’s a “chili” event in Sierra La Sal, whether it be the senior citizens, fire department fund raiser, or just a community get-together: What is chili?
A couple of old Southern Arizonians showed up at the latest community affair with authentic Mexican green chili. I’ve stated this before: Authentic chili is sans beans. What locals call chili – those Gringos* – is chili beans, which is an American staple when it comes to comfort food.
Ah, there were some derisive comments made about dishes proposed by these near-the-southern-border folks. One was that it was “Tex-Mex” food. One culinary pro took offense at this and handed out research showing that green chili – sans beans – is the authentic Mexican version.
I don’t know if that makes chili beans the Tex-Mex version or just a favorite American staple at tailgate parties and comfort food on a chilly night (That would be chili for chilly! Ha! Couldn’t resist that one).
Besides two pots of green chili sans beans there were several of chili beans. All were very delicious. The side dishes were plentiful. The most popular was the corn bread which is always a favorite with chili beans.
I will point out here that a vital ingredient for any chili is cumin, which is not only a Mexican food staple spice but enhances any meat dish, stew, or casserole. 
Needless to say, there was plenty of food for every palate. As I always say, if you go home hungry from a La Sal potluck you really have to work hard at it.  Also, as with social occasions locally, there weren’t just old friends with whom to visit but new friends to make as well. It was indeed a successful social event to honor dads and also usher in summer.
Just another note on beans – and I’ve said this before but can’t say it enough: If you want the best beans ever, it has to be the prairie fire beans which have been served at the Redd Ranches Bull Sale for decades. It’s worth going to the sale just for these beans.
The barbecued beef is great, but give me another serving or three of “them beans”. But don’t be fooled. All beans at the sale are not created equal. Sometimes there are other recipes of beans. Be sure to ask for the prairie fire ones. Don’t ask for the secret to the deliciousness or for Pete’s sake ask about the caloric content, just enjoy.
*The story goes that the U.S. military wore green coats when they were marching through Mexican territory. In response, the Mexicans would say, “Green go home!” These words meshed together and the word Gringo was born. 
However, the story I’ve always heard and verified by Wikipedia is that the word Gringo was a derogatory appellation given to white folk due to the popularity of a song they liked to sing, “Green Grow the Lilacs”.
Whichever, Gringos do like their chili beans! Mexicans and border folk love their green chili.

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