Food Poisoning + Chili = A Surprising Amount of WIN

A mysterious thing happened on Friday afternoon.  I was suddenly and fiercely stricken with some of the most unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms I’ve had since a full-blown bout of gastroenteritis a few years back.  All of Friday afternoon, evening, night and well into Saturday morning were spent virtually chained to the toilet.  Lovely, I know.

But here’s the mysterious part: Jenny, Fayza, Monica and I all came down with the exact same symptoms at the exact same time.  And we were all at the exact same party on Wednesday night.  Coincidence?  I think not.  While I was holding out hope that this was some kind of stomach flu and not food poisoning, I’ve had enough stomach bugs in my life to tell the difference.  All that’s left to do now is figure out the culprit…

While I was laying in bed sometime around 3am on Saturday morning with vicious stomach cramps, all I could think of was I’ve GOT to get better in time to judge the chili cookoff!  Nothing stands between me and chili/passing judgment on others.  I’m devoted like that.

So on Saturday afternoon, I dragged myself out of bed — pale and achy and weak — and down to Shady Tavern.  The smell of chili and barbeque in the air was like an aroma from the gods, like a victory banquet at Valhalla.  Surely I didn’t have the stomach flu; if I did, this smell would make me vomit immediately.

Along with Richard and fellow Chowhound Peggy, I began making my way through the tables and tents of contestants, eyeing their cooking methods and decorations.  One table, Hunka-Hunka-Burning Chili, had framed Elvis pictures painted on black velvet hung on the fence behind them, along with enough Elvis memorabilia to make Graceland pale in comparison.  Another table offered tempting side dishes — freshly pickled jalapeno carrots, various sausages and beer-butt chicken — in addition to their chili.  One team had men wearing wigs and housecoats (the Yo Mama’s Chili team) and another had small, adorable children passing out appetizers at the incongrously-named TNT Tits-n-Tails Chili tent.  And I sensed a distinct rivalry between the Sexual Chili and the Sensual Chili teams.

Continue reading Food Poisoning + Chili = A Surprising Amount of WIN

Chili Cookoff: T Minus One Week

And where will you be a week from today at 2:00 pm?  Let me tell you…

You’ll be at the Second Annual No Holds Barred Chili Cookoff at Shady Tavern in the Heights, that’s where!  A $5.00 wristband gets you all-you-can-eat chili and a vote for the People’s Champ.  Winners in the other four categories — Best In Show, Most Original, Spiciest and Most Traditional — will be decided by the judges, one of which is yours truly.  The other three judges are the competition’s two founders, Dock and Brandon, and my fellow foodie Jenny of I’m Never Full.

Since this is Shady Tavern we’re talking about here, there will — of course — be plenty of live music and ice cold beer on hand.  And since there are nearly 20 competitors this year, there will be plenty of different chili styles to sample and peruse. Want to read more about the event?  Check out yesterday’s article in Houstonist:

Chili Cookoff: You Cumin?

Remember: October 11th at 2:00 p.m. … the competition begins.  See y’all there!

Any Way You Want It

…that’s the way you should cook it.

The 2nd Annual No Holds Barred Chili Cook-Off is coming!  The deadline to enter your team in the competition is October 1st, and the actual cook-off will take place on October 11th.  The winning team will win not only the respect and awe of a crowd of chili-hounds, but also a pretty good amount of cold, hard cash.

To find out more about the competition, check out their website at or today’s write-up in Houstonist.  No Holds Barred is a very different kind of chili cook-off, and one that you shouldn’t miss!

In the interest of full disclosure, it should be said that yours truly is VERY excited to be one of the judges this year.  I can’t wait — seriously, I’m counting the days — to taste all the different, random, inventive, bizarre chilis that I hope await us in October.  Hopefully some of you fine readers will enter your very own chili in the contest!

Why I Love My Father, Part One Million

I’ve always said that my family shows their love through food.  So knowing that I’d be out of town this weekend — leaving a starving husband and dog behind, both of whom have very limited cooking skills — my father left a giant Tupperware container of delicious homemade chili, a bag of Fritos and a bag of pig’s ears (for the dog, natch) on the doorstep of our house on Sunday morning, like a spritely food elf.

Richard and Daisy were quite pleased, as they had nearly resorted to eating old cans of kidney beans.

Thanks, Dad!

Dad with his masonic apron
This is not my father, but I thought this picture of an old man and his apron was quite hilarious. It’s probably someone else’s proud father, showing off his Masonic accessories. I don’t think you’re supposed to cook in a Masonic apron, after all…