The Ultimate Chili Cookbook Review
By W.C. Jameson
People who engage in chili competitions probably don't need chili cookbooks. And, of course, people who don't like chili don't need chili cookbooks. Everyone else, however, needs at least one chili cookbook, and The Ultimate Chili Cookbook by W. C. Jameson is a good one to have.
In addition to the wealth of chili recipes (135 of them, to be exact), The Ultimate Chili Cookbook devotes its first 72 pages to an interesting and well-researched discussion of chili history and geography. You'll find a discussion of the merits of various chili ingredients and spices, including a complete run-down of the most notable "chile peppers."
The author also includes a very interesting chapter on canned chili, which includes nutritional information on major brands of canned chili.
"Like it or not, and the majority of Americans like it, canned chili has become a cultural institution in the United States."
In Texas, chili is one of those subjects about which some individuals become very emotional. The author of The Ultimate Chili Cookbook takes a live-and-let-live approach, an attitude that I admire and encourage. While I, personally, will continue to eschew beans in my chili, I applaud the diversity of tastes among us that results in a variety of approaches to anything, including this Native Texas fare which has become, because of just such diversity, a truly international dish.
Famous Chili Recipes
As you can imagine, with 135 chili recipes, there is a wide variety of selections. To be found are classic recipes, Frank X. Tolbert's Bowl of Red and Wick Fowler's 2-Alarm Chili among them, a whole section of Wild Game Chili recipes featuring everything from venison to javalina to rattlesnake, vegetarian chili, chicken and turkey chili, Yankee chili, low-fat chili and even a section on Seafood chili at which, I must confess, I looked askance, but the author cautions: "Don't knock seafood chili until you've tried it. Once you do, I'm convinced you will be a believer like hundreds of others."
This is an excellent book for the cautious beginner who wants to ensure success by following a good recipe to the letter. At the same, however, it is also an excellent book for the more adventurous cook in that its many combinations and techniques can provide all the inspiration necessary for creating your signature bowl of chili.