fire festival

Last Saturday I went to the ever-cool Cathy's & Darren's annual chili cook-off. All told there were ten different kinds of chili scattered about the kitchen. Two were on the stove, but the other eight were in crock pots.

There are lots of ways to organise a party like this, but here's how Cathy & Darren do it:

  • Each set of guests brings a regular-size batch of chili. That is, you don't worry about feeding all 15-20 people who attend. The Cumulative Law of Pot-Lucks will help take care of that.
  • Each pot of chili gets assigned a number. Next year, there will also be ingredients lists beside each pot (see below for why).
  • Each guest gets a small bowl and a spoon to eat with. The idea is to take a smallish sample of each pot. Reality: Personally, I had about five mini-servings and was stuffed. Still, you can tell a lot about whether or not you will like a chili just by sniffing, so a taste test for everything isn't strictly necessary.
  • Each guest gets a ballot, where they get to vote on the hottest chili, the chili with the most interesting ingredients, and their favourite. Ballots are anonymous and get tabulated when the sampling/eating has died down.
  • Cathy & Darren made sure there were lots of biscuits, rolls, bread, tortilla chips, sour cream, and dip for palate cleansing/cooling down.
During the chili sampling, people chatted about recent curling games and about how much snow there was where they lived. I sipped a tepid Tim Horton's tea that I'd bought along the way and never got a chance to drink in the car (not enough red lights). At one point someone made a curling joke just as I sipped from my Timmy's cup and saw someone else having a spoonful of chili, and it hit me: Wow, this is so... um... Canadian. In point of fact, a Texan got the popular vote, but somehow that seemed par for the course.

Once we had finally convinced ourselves to stop eating (a non-trivial task, under the circumstances), people wandered to the rec room to play Winter Olympics on the Wii. Outside, it was snowing. What, you thought we'd go out and get all gushy about how pretty the white stuff was? It was freaking cold out there. Winter walks are for tourists. Now is the time to move about indoors.

Things I learned:
  • It's been over twenty years since it was my job to cook for my mother and brothers, and therefore it's high time I stop spicing my chili to suit their (ultra-bland) chili preferences. Cayenne here we come.
  • It is possible to keep eating after the inside of your mouth goes numb, so long as you are happy.
  • I suck at both real and virtual archery.
  • I need to expand my collection of industrial music. Badly.