As you may know, Cincinnati chili is known for its particular blend of seasonings and is often served over spaghetti, with optional toppings that determine whether it's called two-way, three-way, four-way, or five-way chili:
On this particular trip, we didn't go to a restaurant that offered it, but I've had it on a previous visit. We passed Gold Star Chili at the airport, which reminded me of this special regional dish.
And that, of course, brings me to today's funny post. You might recall that last year I featured a story written by W. Bruce Cameron about a boy's letter to Santa asking for a guinea pig. So I was happily surprised when I ran across the following essay, which I found hilarious (and I hope you will, too!).
Besides having been a columnist for the Rocky Mountain News and written movie screenplays, Mr. Cameron is also the author of several novels. I'm thinking that I may now need to order a few of them. ;-)
Recently I was honored to be selected as an Outstanding Famous Celebrity in my Community to be a judge at a chili cook-off because no one else wanted to do it. Also the original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table asking directions to the beer wagon when the call came. I was assured by the other two judges that the chili wouldn't be all that spicy, and besides they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted this as being one of those burdens you endure when you're an internet writer and therefore known and adored by all. Here are the scorecards from the event:
Chili # 1: Mike's Maniac Mobster Monster Chili
JUDGE ONE: A little too heavy on tomato. Amusing kick.
JUDGE TWO: Nice, smooth tomato flavor Very mild.
CAMERON: Holy smokes, what is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway with it. Took me two beers to put the flames out. Hope that's the worst one. These people are crazy.
Chili # 2: Arthur's Afterburner Chili
JUDGE ONE: Smoky (barbecue?) with a hint of pork. Slight Jalapeno tang.
JUDGE TWO: Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.
CAMERON: Keep this out of reach of children! I'm not sure what I am supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. Shoved my way to the front of the beer line. The barmaid looks like a professional wrestler after a bad night. She was so irritated over my gagging sounds that the snake tattoo under her eye started to twitch. She has arms like Popeye and a face like Winston Churchill. I will NOT pick a fight with her.
Chili # 3: Fred's Famous Burn Down the Barn Chili
JUDGE ONE: Excellent firehouse chili! Great kick. Needs more beans.
JUDGE TWO: A beanless chili, a bit salty, good use of red peppers.
CAMERON: This has got to be a joke. Call the EPA, I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been sneezing Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now and got out of my way so I could make it to the beer wagon. Barmaid pounded me on the back; now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. She said her friends call her "Sally." Probably behind her back they call her "Forklift."
Chili # 4: Bubba's Black Magic
JUDGE ONE: Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.
JUDGE TWO: A hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.
CAMERON: I felt something scraping across my tongue but was unable to taste it. Sally was standing behind me with fresh refills so I wouldn't have to dash over to see her. When she winked at me her snake sort of coiled and uncoiled--it's kinda cute.
Chili # 5: Linda's Legal Lip Remover
JUDGE ONE: Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground adding considerable kick. Very impressive.
JUDGE TWO: Chili using shredded beef; could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.
CAMERON: My ears are ringing and I can no longer focus my eyes. I belched and four people in front of me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed hurt when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue by pouring beer directly on it from a pitcher. Sort of irritates me that one of the other judges asked me to stop screaming.
Chili # 6: Vera's Very Vegetarian Variety
JUDGE ONE: Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spice and peppers.
JUDGE TWO: The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb.
CAMERON: My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous flames. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except Sally. I asked if she wants to go dancing later.
Chili # 7: Susan's Screaming Sensation Chili
JUDGE ONE: A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.
JUDGE TWO: Ho Hum, tastes as if the chef threw in canned chili peppers at the last moment. I should note that I am a bit worried about Judge Number 3, he appears to be in a bit of distress.
CAMERON: You could put a hand grenade in my mouth and pull the pin and I wouldn't feel it. I've lost the sight in one eye and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My clothes are covered with chili which slid unnoticed out of my mouth at some point. Good, at autopsy they'll know what killed me. Go Sally, save yourself before it's too late. Tell our children I'm sorry I was not there to conceive them. I've decided to stop breathing, it's too painful and I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air I'll just let it in through the hole in my stomach. Call the X-Files people and tell them I've found a super nova on my tongue.
Chili # 8: Helen's Mount Saint Chili
JUDGE ONE: This final entry is a good, balanced chili, neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge Number 3 fell and pulled the chili pot on top of himself.
JUDGE TWO: A perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili, safe for all, not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.
I'd originally spotted Mr. Cameron's essay on ChiliCookin.com, which also has a follow-up message that I've copied verbatim from their website:
We received a great E-mail from "Bob" who told us that he really enjoyed the above "Chili Taster" and he was kind enough to send us a certified narration of "the rest of the story". We hope you enjoy this as much as we did! Thanks Bob!
The following was derived from interviews with contestants, vendors and attendees, and from various official reports submitted and filed by the city police, county sheriff's office, Highway Patrol, volunteer fire department, officials of the ASPCA, and the EMS ambulance crew.
After Judge Cameron consumed a third large spoonful of Chili #8, he lurched to his feet launching his folding chair back into the lovely Sally, who was catapulted off the rear of the judging stand landing flat on her back in the grass just below the stand. Cameron whispered what bystanders recounted sounded like a desperate plea for assistance: "Help me, for the love of God, help me," and appeared to reach for either the airborne Sally or the two pitchers of beer clutched in her hands. Two of the dogs from the Frisbee Catching Contest ran over to lap at the beer-drenched Sally and her thoroughly saturated clothing, such as it was. Sally attempted to demurely both recover her composure as well as re-cover some of her more endearing features, as she'd hit the ground fairly hard bursting a few constraints here and there. Several spectators were injured in the gentlemanly rush to provide assistance.
As these events unfolded, Judge Cameron with a look of pain induced panic appeared to double over and lose his balance. Flailing his arms to regain steady footing, Cameron grabbed the pot of Chili #8 in a vain attempt to stabilize himself. Staggering back toward the edge of the stand, Frank suffered what witnesses later described as a severe internal reaction to the combined chili and beer he had consumed with such gusto.
With a sonic boom like sound, according to many observers, Cameron sustained an eruption of incendiary intestinal gas, which ignited one of the dogs still licking beer from the prostrate form of Sally. The poor creature was quickly extinguished by Judge Two's quick utilization of the last pitcher of beer on the judging table. Luckily the dog was only singed, except on the side nearest Cameron, but the local vet said the hair should grow back the same color as it was. Cameron, in the mean time, slumped off the back edge of the stand spattering the pot of Chili #8 on himself, on Sally, and over the growing herd of wannabe rescuers of Sally, who was desperately fending off any number of helping hands. All the other Frisbee Contest dogs bounded over for the sudden chili feast adding further fuel and confusion to what would soon grow into utter pandemonium. Cameron in a semi-comatose state appeared peaceful as he assumed a supine position next to Sally in the grass. Sally glanced at Cameron with a gaze full of heat and passion. Any woman in the crowd would have recognized the danger in that glare, but the gathering of cowboys seemed inflamed as they jostled to save Sally with either mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or go directly to the ever-popular CPR.
The noxious fumes emanating from Cameron's volcanic blast caused a stampede beginning with the throng milling around Sally. As the toxic vapors spread, the escalating exodus became frenzied flight quickly evolving into a hysterical herd trampling tents, booths, stands, and sundry chili preparation utensils. Toppled chili cook stoves and electrical wiring torn from junction boxes created a conflagration like the tri-county area has not seen before and, perhaps, ever again. Adding to the confusion, the fleeing horde hampered and impeded the arrival of various emergency and law enforcement personnel, who were therefore too late to prevent the most serious of Cameron's injuries as Sally thrashed him soundly about the head and shoulders.
Judge Cameron is recovering in a local hospital and though not in custody, charges may yet be brought. Sally and Judge Two are dating as he did give Sally his jacket, although some think his effort to dry her off with a handful of paper towels was opportunistic at best. Judge One is attempting to become a Food Critic for some yuppie newspaper in the wine country of California.
Submitted by Bob M