A Brief History of Chili

A Brief History of Chili

It was once called soup of the devil because people felt the spicy peppers elicited evil behaviors. I don’t know about you, but after a cup of this, the only behavior I am doing involves a couch and sleep.

Nothing warms you up on a cold winter day than a hearty bowl of delicious chili. Americans love chili. It is at the heart of many cook-offs. Folks guard their chili recipes like a precious family heirloom. Chili is often served during one of our favorite pastimes: watching football. Heck, we even slathered on top of the all-American hotdog. But, have you ever wondered where or when this fiery dish originated? Well, contrary to the belief of many, it is not in Mexico. However, southwestern folklore credits Texas as the birthplace of Chili. Curious? Read on for our brief history of Chili.

Tales of Chili

Legends dating back to 1600’s, talk of an exquisite “Lady in Blue.” The story goes that Sister Mary of Agreda of Spain experienced out of body experiences in which she would travel overseas. It is said that she taught the Jumano Indians of Texas about God, and a smokey red stew. We are not quite sure if we believe this yarn, but we agree that eating a good bowl of chili is like an out of body experience!

Another tale of the history of chili takes us back to the early 1700’s where it is told that a group of settlers arrived from the Canary Islands to what is now San Antonio. These folks founded San Antonio’s first civil government, thus creating Texas’s first municipality. According to historians, the women made a spicy stew that is similar to today’s modern chili.

Through time Spanish missionary priests held a hostile view of the dish, calling it “soup of the devil.” They believed the spicy peppers elicited evil behaviors, assuming they were aphrodisiacs. Suppression only fueled this fire and in the 1800’s chili was a staple food for cowboys, ruffians, and Adventurers on the Western Frontier. It was even served up in jails. Originally made of dried beef, fat and spices carried in saddlebags, then reconstituted over campfires. It was cheap and hearty and filling.

The Big Debate

And now we pose the even bigger question: Beans or no beans? That is a debate that has raged on for years. There is a saying in Texas that “if you know beans about chili, you know that chili has no beans.” Well, here at the Mason-Dixon line (and just about anywhere else other than Texas) we favor beans in our chili.

You don’t need to be a ruffian or a cowboy to enjoy good chili. We invite you to come on into Adam’s Taphouse and Grille and warm up with a bowl of our famous recipe.