It is time to celebrate National Chili Day!
Commemorated on the fourth Thursday of February, National Chili Day is the perfect occasion to enjoy one of the world’s most beloved dishes.
Chili is a fiery concoction of hot peppers, garlic, onions, cumin, tomatoes, and beans, and it can easily be prepared using 100 percent whole food, plant-based ingredients, making it both delicious and health promoting.
We will share a plant-based chili recipe a little later on.
In the meantime, let’s discover a bit more about this saucy stew’s history.
The History of Chili
The true origin of chili is up for debate.
Some believe that a spicy Spanish stew similar to chili was first brought to Texas with a group of families who emigrated there from the Spanish Canary Islands in 1731.
Others claim that the earliest description of chili was written by Houston resident J.C. Clopper in 1828 when he observed the dish being eaten by poor families in San Antonio. He called it a “kind of hash with nearly as many peppers as there are pieces of meat—this is all stewed together.”
Others argue that the first chili recipe dates to the 1850s when dried beef, dried chili peppers, and salt were pounded together into bricks. These dried concoctions, which could be prepared simply by boiling them in pots of water, were popular with Texas cowboys and adventurers who wanted a convenient meal on the trail.
Chili’s popularity was clinched at the Chicago World Fair in 1893 where Americans from around the country discovered the dish at the San Antonio Chili Stand.
When chili powder became available in commercial form at the beginning of the 20th century, hundreds of small, family-run chili ‘joints’ sprouted up throughout Texas and the West.
The Chili Queens
Considered the birthplace of chili, San Antonio has been long been famous for its chili stands that were run by ‘chili queens.’
The stands first began when the Spanish army used to camp on the plaza and the chili queens created makeshift open-air stalls to sell them a meal of chili.
The chili queens would make the chili at home, load it onto their wagons and bring it to the plaza. They would build mesquite fires on the square to keep the chili warm, light colorful lanterns, and serve their chili to customers who would eat it sitting on wooden stools.
The chili queens eventually went out of business in 1937 because they failed to live up to new sanitary standards.
As it turns out, they were gone but never forgotten.
In fact, in the 1980s, the town of San Antonio began to stage historical reenactments of the chili queens and started to hold an annual “Return of the Chili Queens Festival” during the month of May.
I guess it goes without saying that the best way to celebrate National Chili Day is to eat chili!
Here is our flavor-packed whole food, plant-based recipe for Slow Cooker Seven Veggie Chili just for you.
Happy National Chili Day!