Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chili and Football Go Together Like Peas and Carrots...

...well, they may equally pair up well but that's where the comparison ends. Peas and carrots don't come close to eliciting the passion demonstrated by fans of chili and football. Now, those of you who know me are probably already sporting a smirk....I'm not what one would call a sports fan. I do however, have a long history with the pairing of homemade chili and football season and this past weekend became another chapter in that proud tradition.

My dad's chili represents my earliest memory of that heaping bowl of homemade heartiness. He frequently made a "safer" version for church functions and such, but at home when preparing to watch his beloved West Virginia Mountaineers or Pittsburgh Steelers, he would kick it up a notch. Sometimes, it seemed as if Dad's spice levels reflected the importance of the game: if the Steelers were in the Super Bowl, his chili would definitely warm you up....if the Steelers were playing the Dallas Cowboys, the chili would seem outright angry. This was the chili that gave me my love of heat and spice.

Chili and football would also co-star for local football events in my hometown as well. Every Friday night during high school football season, Kristy's mother Mary Alice would whip up a batch of homemade chili and serve it with everything from grilled cheese sandwiches, slivers of Amish Baby Swiss cheese and crackers and last, but certainly not least, her delicious homemade cheesecakes. Throughout our school years and lastly through my beloved band geek days, this was a cherished Friday night football season tradition.

My friend Kaki continues the chili and football tradition during WVU and Steelers games. She makes a fiery and filling version, topped with shredded cheese, sour cream and Fritos. I frequently leave not-so-subtle hints with Kak concerning my craving for her batch of spicy goodness.

Finally, this past Saturday night, we joined Keith's family for the latest version of Football Loves Chili. Anne and Randy hosted a get-together to watch the undefeated No. 11-ranked University of Missouri Tigers take on No. 1-ranked Oklahoma. I've been in Kansas City for nearly seven years and while not quite yet a Mizzou fan, I can certainly cheer them on against Oklahoma. My heart will always belong with WVU, but when in Rome...

Our generous hosts have a beautiful home and they put out quite the spread. Hot dogs, buffalo and barbecue wings, cornbread muffins and beer bread were among the featured items. Shelby baked an awesome and yummy cupcake tribute to Mizzou. I was also an instant fan of Anne and Randy's spicy zucchini relish and I'm not typically a relish fan. The centerpiece was the Vanloo's own deliciously spicy chili, served in bowls with condiments or over hot dogs. The only thing missing was the necessary chill in the air as the temps outside were unseasonably hot. Otherwise, it was a perfect setting for watching football and indeed the game was a thriller: the score was close throughout and in the end, Mizzou successfully unseated Oklahoma from their No. 1 position. Cheers echoed throughout the house and a good time was had by all. Even Sierra and Caitlyn found creative ways to enjoy the festivities(pictured at left)...

I may not be a sports fan by definition but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate a good game...especially when it's accompanied by a fine bowl of spicy, homemade chili.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

You should not be a chef but a writer...My mouth was watering by your description of the delights of the weekend.

Kristy said...

Chili and cheesecake...Mom's Friday night special cause we all had to get back to the high school for the football game. I remember putting dill pickles on my grilled cheese. The Amish Baby Swiss was typically thanks to Uncle Raymond who would bring down a whole wheel of it when he visited. Mom even made one of her cheesecakes for my cousin Richard and transported it all the way to band camp...IN AUGUST!...because he was having a craving. P.S. Chili does indeed go on/with everything...except Fruit Loops (that would be what the beer is for!)

Confounded Cook said...

LOL, Kristy! First off, HOW did I miss the dill pickles on grilled cheese...I think I would have loved that. As for beer and Fruit Loops, now I'm thinking of Spring Break in Florida.

Kristy said...

Uh,,,yeah, Spring Break!! BTW, when i first saw the pic of the football helmet with the M on it I wondered why on earth you would put a Michigan helmet on your post because in WV that is blasphemy. Then I remembered you live in MISSOURI. I sure am glad that we don't have to stop you at the state line next time you come home and deny your admittance LOL!

Lisa Mandina said...

I think I'm going to make some chili Sunday night! And those cupcakes looked yummy too.

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