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It's Chili Out There

Every year as we begin to slowly disregard our New Year’s resolutions, an event approaches that causes even the ber-athletic to sit back on the couch and enjoy a day of lounging around: The Super Bowl. However this is not a day for the weary; Super Bowl parties require a great deal of pre-game preparation. More important than the game, more important even than the commercials, is the game day chili. Whether you’re in Jacksonville, Florida or Boston, Massachusetts, a good old- fashioned chili will make your Super Bowl party a winner.

Chili owes its history to the Wild West and Mexico, and served as a way to cook hard-to-eat meats, such as the deer and rabbit found along the lonely trails, into an edible meal. The meat was cut up into small chunks and seasoned with chilis over an open fire. Traditionally chili was served with beans and tortillas,   la carte of course. Over the years, many a cook has boasted about their special chili recipe – some include beans, others are classic meat-only Texas style, and almost all cook slowly in some sort of spicy concoction that simmers sweetly for hours.

Two RC students, Madison Mauze (NC) and Will Hsu (NI), offered to share their treasured chili tips for this article. Madison, a native Texan with southern roots tied firmly to the southwest, cooks a mean meat chili that boasts jabanero chilies, lean venison, and sugar to taste. Will Hsu, a native Wisconsin boy with roots going all the way to Asia, offers both mild and spicy versions of his chili that is chock full of beans. The secret, he claims, is the slow cooking process.

So break out your famous chili recipe or borrow one from a friend, and start planning your Super Bowl party. Based on your tastes and geographical situation, I’ve come up with a few themed party suggestions to spice up your chili menu:

The Student Budget
For those who spent too much over the holiday break and haven’t received the extra help from Citi-Assist yet, try cooking up a pot of chili and serve it on toast. Break out the paper plates and toast up some Wonder Bread. Have your guests scoop up some chili on the toast and voila – a perfect Super Bowl meal!

All American Meal
Calling all off-campus students with backyards and grills! What is a football game without dogs on the grill? Grab a bun and serve up your chili atop a plump dog. Put some American toothpick flags in the dogs and serve on a large patter. This chili meal is a twist on an American tradition that pairs well with a classic American beer – how about a PBR?

The Midwestern Treat
Hearty meals are a tradition in the Midwest and there is no better way to pay homage to American’s Breadbasket than chili on a baked potato with all the fixings. This is an easy meal that will fill up even your most hungry guests! Buy some Golden Russet potatoes, wrap them in foil, and bake them about 1 hour before you are ready to eat. In addition to the chili, have small bowls handy for grated cheese, sour cream, and butter. Guests can garnish to taste and the extra potatoes will keep warm in the oven throughout the day.

A Southern Tradition
What is chili without a large slice of cornbread? To make your Southern guests feel at home, bake some sweet cornbread to accompany your bowl of chili. Serve with a smile, using matching dinnerware and good napkins.

An East Coast Attempt
East Coast natives are partial to those wonderful “chowdah” bowls, so for those that can’t break away from the seafood tradition for one day; I suggest picking up some sourdough rounds to make chili bowls. Make a large circle in the top and scoop out enough to make a sturdy bowl. Your friends can pick up a bowl and scoop in their own chili throughout the day. The best part: No messes as your guests eat their serving dishes!

The Gourmet Life
If you’re lucky enough to have a partner that is more interested in the party than the game, test your culinary skills with chili pot pies. The individual pie crust, as with the chili, can be prepared the night before and chilled for game day. Place the pie crust in small tins and fill each one with your special recipe chili. Bake until golden and serve hot! With scrumptious treats like these, you might find that a robust cabernet pairs better than the traditional pint of beer.

California Dreaming
Blue skies, crashing waves, and year-round warm weather, the California chili party is perfect for those that crave an outdoorsy lifestyle. The morning of your party, shred a head of lettuce and dice up some plump tomatoes. Heat up some large flour tortillas over a low flame, scoop in a half-cup of chili, add your veggies and garnish with low fat sour cream. Wrap up the individual chili burritos and serve with a Corona Light to your health conscious guests.

No matter which kind of chili theme fits the bill for your Super Bowl party, hosts should stock up on napkins, plates and cups that match your team colors. If you plan to host guests who support different teams, divide the room down the middle with some tape and decorate each side with opposing colors and logos. The morning of the game, stock up on beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and fill up a tub with ice to cool them down. Have some fun snacks on the table and serve your chili dish during half-time when all the game entertainment and commercials go live. Chili, as with good company, can be spicy, sweet, or perhaps just full of surprises – but most of all, its just great to have lots of it around on a cold February day.

January 31, 2005
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