Small Bite: Real chili does NOT have beans

Everybody thinks they know how to make chili. Some people do, some people don’t. Both types of people are fine, but what many of them fail to understand is that real chili is not supposed to have beans.

” Serve the beans on the side. Please? “

Now before you go all bean-militant on me and accuse me of being a bean hater, let me be perfectly clear: I love beans. I love beans in chili. But beans are not supposed to be cooked in chili. The correct way to do things is to the cook beans separately and then add them to the chili on a per-serving basis… just like pasta. You don’t boil raw pasta in sauce, do you? No. You prepare pasta separately in its own pot of salted water so that it comes out just so, and then you add your pasta sauce to it. And that’s how chili is supposed to be handled as well.


Confused? Outraged? Mind blown? Well don’t take my word on it. The International Chili Society is the single, official authority on what chili is and what it isn’t. As clearly stated in the chili cookoff event rules:

Chili is defined by the International Chili Society as any kind of meat or combination of meats, cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA which are strictly forbidden.

I already know what you’re going to say: “But… but…. I make famous and awesome chili and it has beans in it!” No, I’m sorry, you make famous and awesome chili-style beans. That’s ok though, it’s totally fine. There’s nothing wrong with what you make, you’ve just been calling it the wrong name.

Before you get all huffy about it, I’m not here to tell you what you can and can’t do. You can make chili with toothpaste and pine needles if you feel like, and you can call it whatever you want. Just know that true, legitimate chili consists of exactly two things: meat and flavor. That means “vegetarian chili”, by definition, isn’t.

At this point you might be wondering if you’ve ever really had true, legitimate chili in your entire life, and the truth is there’s a good chance you haven’t. Not to worry! The winning recipes from every World Chili Champion from 1967 to today are posted right here for you to replicate and enjoy. If you can’t decide which one to try first, Tarantula Jack’s recipe is both delicious and easy, and it’s a perfect example of what true chili is supposed to be.

And for the sake of all that is good and wholesome in this world, serve the beans on the side. Please?

This graphic pretty much says it all.

This graphic pretty much says it all.

Nonstandard Disclaimer of Randomness
The views and opinions of the author are strictly correct and expressed as fact. If you find yourself in disagreement with any statements made in this post, stop smoking crack. Please also do not get your feelings all hurt because you just found out you were wrong about the bean thing. We all make mistakes. I once owned several pairs of tapered jeans, for example, but I stopped wearing them. Similarly, you can stop putting beans in your chili.

Introducing Small Bites

“Small Bites” is a feature I’ve intended to add to my this blog for quite a while now, but simply haven’t. Unlike my feature-length recipes and restaurant reviews, Small Bites will be shorter posts on a variety of topics, most of which will not really have a point. In other words, they’ll be exactly like everything else I write, only more concise.

To help explain in more detail what Small Bites are all about, here’s a handy infographic:

The only reason this is here is because I feel like all posts should have a picture.

This is here is because I feel like all posts should include a photo of something.

There, I hope that cleared things up.

The good news is that I’ve built up something of a backlog of Small Bites lately, and I’ll be adding them to my publishing schedule here and there. I hope you enjoy reading them, but it’s okay if you don’t because I still enjoyed writing them.

Nonstandard Disclaimer of Randomness
The intent of this disclaimer is to disclaim any claims made in the body of this post, whether or not it has claimed or dissed anything at all. To be perfectly honest, I’m not even sure why I decided to add a disclaimer here, but since I’ve fooled you into reading this far I’ll go ahead and chalk it up as a win. Thanks for being a willing victim.


You know what’s annoying? When you find a really awesome recipe online and want to make it, but the guy who posted it on his blog just keeps talking and telling inane stories and generally screwing up the entire recipe without ever really getting to the point. You are then forced to try and scroll through all the blabber without getting melted butter on your iPad, desperately trying to find the next step before your garlic burns.

I know this all too well, because this has happened to me. While re-making a recipe from my own blog, in fact. MY OWN BLOG.

Clearly, I need to tighten up my recipe directions a bit.

I assume you are all just far too nice to have complained to me about this, and for that you have my gratitude. As a token of thanks, I have added “tl;dr” sections to the bottom of every recipe I have posted to date, along with handy “Skip to the short version” links at the top of each page. Here, check it out for yourself. (For those of you scratching your heads, tl;dr is Internet slang for “too long; didn’t read” and is sometimes used to indicate a postscript summary.)



And that’s about it. Don’t say I never got you anything nice for Christmas.

All Kitchens Great and Small

So, I moved. That’s as close as I’m going to get to providing an excuse for not posting since December. If you’ve ever moved, you know what a soul-eating experience it can be, and if you haven’t I envy your blissful ignorance. Of course I would have been much happier cooking, eating out, and posting about it, but instead I wiled away the months spackling, painting, rewiring, repairing, and doing all sorts of other unpleasant fix-it monkey work that comes with selling a house from the 1920’s. As Tolkien once wrote: “I had many other duties that I did not neglect.”

And that’s what I have to say for myself. Excuse over. Now, back to blogging.

” It’s like our very own miniature convenience store where everything is free. “

My wife and I decided that our old house, although overflowing with charm and history, was also overflowing with our stuff. Combined with a severe case of new house envy, the fact that our garage was turning into a passable representation of the warehouse at the end of Indiana Jones pushed us over the edge. And just like that we decided to get rid of our old house and empty a bucket of cash on a shiny new one. Fast forward a seeming eternity later, and we are finally settling into our new home. Our furniture is all here, we have found most of our clothes, and although there are half-unpacked moving boxes everywhere we seem to be winning the war against chaos. The pantry is full of food, the refrigerator finally works, and the kitchen is all set up and ready to go. Halle-frickin-lujah.

The new fridge is bigger than our old closet.

The new fridge is bigger than our old closet.

As fortune (and our checkbook) would have it, our new kitchen is considerably larger and more fabulous than our old one, and it’s packed to the brim with all the latest and greatest features a slightly competent home chef could want. I have (somewhat arrogantly, I suppose) begun referring to the kitchen as “my office”, because it’s the first place in the new house that began to feel like home. Actually, the couch was probably first, but that’s neither here nor there. Besides, this is a food blog, not a place where I gush about how awesome Sony flatscreen TVs are. They are awesome though, the 3D definition is remarkable.

Sorry, distracted by electronics. Where was I? Ah yes, kitchens.

All of this got me reminiscing about the kitchen in our old house, and the eleven years of cooking, mess-making, dish washing, successes, failures, and quirks that I grew to know and love. There was that back burner that never seemed to want to light, and the unevenly heated oven was always about ten degrees off. The bottom drawer in the island had a cruel sense of humor; it enjoyed suddenly slipping off of its rails in gleeful attempts to crush one’s toes while one was rummaging around in it. And how could I forget about the microwave? That stupid, stupid microwave with only a handful of working buttons was the bane of my existence on more than one occasion; I won’t miss it.

Happiness is an alphabetized spice cupboard.

Happiness is an alphabetized spice cupboard.

In spite of the faults of our old kitchen, I find myself remembering it fondly. It did certainly have character, no doubt about that. I don’t mean to imply that our new kitchen doesn’t have character, it’s just that I don’t know it as well. We are close acquaintances on the way to becoming friends, and I do very much enjoy spending time there. The well-made cabinets have loads of space for all my plates and measuring cups and nerdy kitchen gizmos, and none of the drawers seem interested in playing sadistic games of “This Little Piggy”. The walk-in pantry is a godsend, and honestly I have no idea how I ever lived without one. It’s like our very own miniature convenience store where everything is free.

The image isn't distorted. The walls actually curve like that.

The image isn’t distorted. The walls actually curve like that.

The rock-candy-like countertops look good enough to eat, and they stretch on for what seems like miles. All the better for making messes upon. There is room enough for all of the spices to be in a single cabinet (gasp!), and the gas stove has twice as many functional burners as I’m used to. There are two ovens (three, if you consider the fact that the microwave is also a convection oven), which means both the main course and dessert can be burned to a crisp at the same time.

As much as I’ve waxed poetic about my old kitchen, I’m looking forward to a fresh start in the new one. Here’s to many upcoming evenings and weekends puttering around in the pantry, experimenting with the bevy of different ways my new fangled ovens can become hot, and generally just getting to know my way around. I can see the future, and it looks delicious.

Nothing says elegance like a bouquet of spatulas.

Nothing says elegance like a bouquet of spatulas.

An introduction

Welcome to Randomly Edible, a blog that will often (but not always) be about stuff you can eat. As the tagline implies, this is only loosely defined as a food blog. A true food blog would contain artfully crafted original recipes, studio-quality photography, advice from experienced culinary experts, and perhaps even professionally written reviews of gourmet restaurants.

I will provide none of these things.

” I could only handle so much baked squash “

“So what in the heck are you going to write about anyway?” you say. I’m glad you asked! One day I might share a favorite recipe of mine, and another day I’ll write about the killer noodle bowl I had for lunch. I’ll discuss cooking tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years, let you know where to find the best popcorn in Chicago, and talk about the most disgusting candy I’ve ever tasted. I’ll praise the awesomeness of crawfish, theorize on why cookies are better as dough, and explain how mind-numbingly easy it is to make dinner in a Crock-Pot. In other words, I plan to write about all kinds of odd things that, while otherwise unrelated, are all linked to food in some way.

“What makes you qualified to write this blog then?” you ask. Well don’t get ahead of yourself, because I don’t happen to think I’m qualified at all. I have no professional culinary education, no restaurant experience, and my palette is not particularly well refined. (What’s a palette anyway? Never mind.) What I do have going for me is that I truly love cooking, and the eating part isn’t so bad either. I don’t claim to be a great cook, or even a marginal one, but I do rather enjoy the food I make … and I also don’t get a lot of complaints. Perhaps that’s just my friends and family being polite when presented with free food, but there’s a small chance I have at least a smidgeon of ability.

I’ve been interested in kitchen goings-on ever since I was a kid, and I would always pester my poor mother while she was slaving away over a hot stove. It didn’t take her long to figure out that I would stay out of her hair if I was given kitchen-y tasks to focus on, so I spent many childhood years mixing batter, measuring flour, and locating spices in the cupboard. I don’t remember the first thing I learned how to cook 100% on my own, but it was probably grilled cheese. When I was about twelve years old, my mother went on a serious health food kick of an extremely vegan nature; my carnivore father and I were horrified. I could only handle so much baked squash and steamed kale before I snapped, so in an act of sheer dietary self-defense I started teaching myself how to cook things that were actually enjoyable to eat. I learned a bit of kitchen know-how from my grandmother, my father showed me how to grill, a friend’s mother handed me down a few recipes… and here I am today.

I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts, mistakes, and aha! moments with you; hopefully my ramblings contain more desirable content than the overly vegan meals I remember from my pre-teen years. Thanks for joining me as I embark on yet another blogging adventure, and I hope you enjoy the journey. Don’t forget to tip the wait staff.