The Democracy of Chili
It's the season for the most divisive and most unifying dish there is.
Fall is the time of year when we make our choices known: we choose what we stand for, what we value, what we want to say about ourselves. We choose between integrity and self-interest, between perfection and practicality, between tradition and revolution. Our choices are both deeply personal and the matter of intense public debate, and there’s no other time on the calendar when we can make them so clearly.
Of course, I’m talking about chili season.
Chili is the perfect culinary uniter, and that’s because there’s no clear agreement on what it is. It can be mild or blazingly spicy, fussily complex or insultingly simple. It can basically be a bowl of meat, or it can just as easily be vegan—and not in the “I’m putting a steamed whole carrot on a bun and calling it a bratwurst” way, but in an honest-to-god-delicious, most-people-couldn’t-tell-the-difference-if-you-didn’t-tell-them kind of way. No one is excluded by chili, but no one has exclusive claim to it.
Chili is like freedom; we all be…