Eat in a few hundred Texas cafes like this one then write an article about Texas Red chili

Katie Workman begins her hopelessly flawed Washington Post (AP) article on Texas Red chili thusly: “If you know anything about Texas chili…”

Workman then goes on to prove that she knows absolutely nothing about the food so revered that good men have lost their lives over it.

Undeterred by facts or historical research, she avers:

“If you did not know that the chili in Texas never, ever contains beans…”

At least Workman’s plucky.

But grievously wrong as there are hundreds of Texas chilis that contain beans. The majority of Texas chilis contain beans, there is only one that is by definition bean-free and that is Texas Red, the most hallowed chili in the Unites States.

Workman barrels forward: “If you have access to Hatch chili powder (from Texas)…”

Good lord. Hatch, New Mexico is eighty some miles from Texas. During season you can buy crates of Hatch peppers in Texas but Hatch, the town, is firmly planted on New Mexico soil and has been since 1875. Hatch chili powder is not “from Texas”

On a roll, Workman continues “The annual Terlingua Chili Contest, held in Grapevine, Texas…”

The Terlingua Chili Cook-off(s) are held in Terlingua, Texas, nearly 600 miles from Grapevine. If you’re going to write an article on Texas chili you may want to invest in an atlas or use “the Google” if you don’t have access to a bookstore in your town.

Workman then goes on to offer a recipe that may or may not be delicious but is certainly not Texas Red. Not by a long shot. She includes two adjunct ingredients: onions, and tomatoes that immediately get her disqualified from the Texas Red canon.

And then to compound the problem she omits both cumin and Mexican oregano, two crucial building blocks of true Texas Red.

Nine years ago I penned the definitive Texas Red recipe. It’s here.

That formula was the culmination of 20 some years spent eating chili in the great state, competing in cook-offs, and preparing hundreds of gallons of Texas Red in both professional and home kitchens.

If you’re going to write an article on Texas chili you better be ready to put in some sweat-neck research.

Let me pass the mic to my man LBJ:

“Chili concocted outside of Texas is usually a weak, apologetic imitation of the real thing. One of the first things I do when I get home to Texas is to have a bowl of red. There is simply nothing better.” Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States

If you’re ever out in Austin, Texas make sure to visit the Lyndon B Johnson library where a life-size, animatronic LBJ cracks jokes and tells stories. And if you want to get cross-wise with the robot just show him Workman’s chili recipe.

Remember Yul Brynner’s automatonic rampage in the 1973 film Westworld? Now imagine sparks flying out of LBJ as he grabs you by the scruff of your neck and implacably drags you a mile west to Texas Chili Parlor on Lavaca. “Now eat!” he thunders.

Note: If you want to become well-versed in the art and science of Texas chili, block out a few rainy afternoons and read up on George Haddaway. Haddaway was so passionate about true Texas chili that he once beat up a Houston airport cook who’d put baked beans in his bowl of red. As lore has it, when the cops came they dressed down the cook and went about their way.

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