Chili, Chocolate and Chihuahuas

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Chili, Chocolate and Chihuahuas

The Lovely Wife has jetted off to the great Midwest, leaving me behind to sort the pages of an unruly poetry manuscript in the company of Apollonia, the six-pound terror of Texas, and Ozymandias, her doting, but worried, twelve-pound shadow. As noon departs I note hunger’s first tentative touch, and head to the grocery store for supplies. I’m craving chili, but not having a particular recipe in mind, decide to see what strikes my fancy.

Ah, the sun at last!
No more rain, the yard’s drying.
Our dogs, shivering.

For my chili base I’ll sometimes toast dried ancho peppers, rehydrate and puree them, but I’ve recently replenished my chile powder stock (ancho, chipotle, New Mexico, cayenne, smoked paprika) and feel just a tad lazy, so I’ll use the powdered stuff. But I pick up a poblano, some jalapeños and two onions, and on my way to the meat counter, grab a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes and some spiced tomato sauce. I examine the beef and nothing entices me (ground beef is anathema, and don’t even mention beans!), but a few paces away I spy a small pork roast, and place it in my cart alongside a 16-oz bottle of Shiner Bock and a bag of chocolate chips.

Knowing my plans, the
cashier smiles and shakes her head.
Milk chocolate chips?

Shuffling the manuscript pages, I ask the dogs for their input. But Apollonia declines, preferring to nap in a sunbeam, and Ozzie is too busy pacing to bother with poetry. So I turn to the impending dinner, chop onion, dice peppers, mince garlic, measure out the various chile powders, cumin and oregano, cube the pork, and brown it in the Dutch oven.

Ozymandias
sits by the front door and moans.
Wind rattles the house.

Once the meat is seared, I saute the veggies, dump in the canned tomatoes and chile powder mixture, add the meat, coating it with the spices, and then pour in the Shiner Bock and heat it all to a near-boil before reducing the temperature and allowing it to simmer for an hour, at which point I stir in about four ounces of the chocolate chips and a teaspoon of garam masala. I let the chili simmer for another hour, then remove half of the pork, shred it with a fork (it’s very tender), and return it to the pot, stir, taste, and add a little salt. Done. I ladle out a bowl, pour a La Frontera IPA, and eat. Not bad, I think. Not bad at all for the first chili of the season.

Beer in hand, I burp,
the dogs stirring underfoot.
Only four more nights…

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90 thoughts on “Chili, Chocolate and Chihuahuas

  1. I could believe a tsp of cinnamon, or a tbsp of instant coffee, but chocolate chips? Hmm… Still, I have to credit you; my DH lives on frozen pasta dinners & sandwiches when I’m away.
    Good thing your cute little pooch can’t eat chili; apparently chocolate is poison to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think the cooking, the verse and the prose go well together 🙂 Chilli and chocolate make a good team. I make spicy chocolate chip cookies with chilli as one of the ingredients – but only dark chocolate, please!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What REALLY like about this post is how your “mundane” life is woven through the poetry or vice versa. Publishing poetry leaves out the fascinating parts of life that lead to the poetry, so to have your daily prose mixed with poetic verse symbiotically is a real treat.

    The supposedly “mundane” in life is much more fascinating than what ends up on our resumes. So thanks for including the existential poetry of meat and masala in your life. 美しい!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. All the lovely variations of chili and beer. The spontaneity of this post was a lot of fun. I really appreciate (ground beef is anathema), My friend’s Mom in San Antonio who taught me to make chili said very negative things about ground beef. I make a nice mole sauce with chocolate to use on post-Thanksgiving turkey tacos and a nice pork green chili recipe I love. Now I have to go make dinner, my mouth is watering.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I consider chili a stew, and I don’t make any other stew with ground meat. And I prefer the taste and texture of a braised meat. But that’s just my personal take on chili. It’s not a quick dish, but an evolved, layered one. At least that’s my hope. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. i very much enjoyed this cooking story/poem. if you run out of chili and make another grocery run may i suggest, pork steak, the blade bone in cut. marinate for 4 or 5 hours in red wine vinegar, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, a little canola oil, fresh thyme, sage, and rosemary. along with as much garlic as you can handle. chilies would be nice too. perhaps a fresh serrano or a fresno. a very hot grill and maybe 4 minutes a side. enjoy! it’s what was for dinner last night along with a local zinfandel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind words. The once-in-a-lifetime occurrences can be wonderful, but I don’t think I’d like a steady diet of them. The day-to-day is where I live, where I find what some might call inspiration.

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    • Hmm. I’ve never tried fresh green cayenne, but would certainly be willing! But as far as beans go, no true Texan would allow them in chili. There was quite a big controversy about the bean issue in Texas chili approximately fifty years ago, and I stand with the victors. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. 🙂 Of course, when making vegetarian chili, I use beans – either black or pintos. My sister uses kidney beans in her regular chili, which I believe renders her ineligible to vote in Texas.

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      • I spent a lot of years in central Texas and that is where I learned to use beans to make the best chili. Try it with dark kidney beans and get a surprise. I grow my own cayenne and prefer it to all others. The Bohemians around Temple understand the art of chili more than any place I’ve ever been,

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ackkkkk! Those Temple heathens! They also likely used ground beef (which is what I grew up with in Central Texas). The dish developed as a beef and chile concoction, with no mention of beans in historical accounts (as if that mattered). We’ll have to disagree on this one. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Half a Haibun 2 | Work in Progress

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