Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Chili Reception

“Hey, I’m going to make chili tonight if that’s alright by you,” said the Voice.

What’s not to like about an offer like that, you say? Let me tell you. That simple sentence is a loaded minefield. One false step and, Boom! Here’s the analysis:

“Hey” – friendly attention getter. Warning! Will Robinson! Danger! Danger!

“I’m going to make chili tonight” – Establishing the playing field. Do you want to play? (see above warning)

“if that’s alright by you.” – Translation: Do these pants make my butt look big?

There are several responses to this statement, each with its own consequence.

a. “Noooooooo! Get out of the kitchen right now!” Boom!

b. “Thanks, honey, but how about I make the chili?” Boom!

c. “Uh, didn’t you make chili last year?” Boom!

d. “Thanks, that would be nice.” Tick, tick, tick tick…

Coward that I am, I chose answer “d” and awaited the moment the ticking stopped.

After much clanking around in the kitchen all went quiet for about half an hour. Tick, tick, tick, tick…



“Yes, light of my life?”

“Would you please check the chili and adjust the seasoning? It seems sort of bland to me.”

…tick, tick, tick…Boom!

Lifting the lid I could detect chili powder, a little garlic and not much else. Water, tomatoes, onions; it all looked very unhappy. Yep, a bad case of bland. This was a chili emergency. Quickly, I added a can of tomato paste, a little salt, pinch of sugar, ton of garlic powder. Still, something was lacking. I knew the answer but I enquired.

“Dumplings, did you add any cumin?” I asked as I shook several tablespoons of cumin into the chili. It was already looking happier.

“Cumin? Oh, no, never. I hate cumin. Always have. I’d never put cumin in chili.”

Well, this response gave me a severe case of whiplash. What? I’ve been loading down my Prize Winning Chili with cumin for years. Decades, even.

“What do you mean no cumin, Sweetie Pie? I’ve been putting cumin in chili for 20 years! After all that time how can you say you’re off cumin?”

“I’ve had it up to here with cumin,” raising her palm to her nose.

“Now you tell me?”

“Better late than never.”

“You’ve had it up to here with cumin,” and I placed my palm against my nose, meanwhile shaking cumin into the chili for all I was worth.

“Yep, that’s about it.”

“I see. OK. Well, I’ll get back to adjusting the spices in the chili, and, uh, I’ll skip the cumin this time. Yessiree, no cumin. Nope, this is a Cumin Free Zone.”

I lifted the lid and took a deep whiff of the chili. Pure cumin. Glorious cumin. Forbidden cumin! Thinking fast I asked myself, I said “Self, what’s the opposite of cumin?” and self answered “Nutmeg.”

So, I dumped a load of nutmeg into the chili, gave it a stir and let it ripen for an hour.

Much later as the chili was served there were purring noises coming from around the table.

“Hey, Dad, best chili ever!”

“Don’t thank me,” I said, “it’s Mom’s chili.”

The Voice looked up after serving herself seconds and said, “And you know the best thing? After all these years he finally learned to get the spices right. No cumin!”

…tick, tick, tick, tick…Dud.


Me. said...

Here is an off topic question for you, you best cook ever you;
How do you make carrot cake? The kind that a toddle could eat?

schmims said...

And no beans! That's what I say about chili, leave the beans out of this!

Anonymous said...

What, no tango?

Bret said...

Then the conversation turned, as it always did, to cumin...

You call it cumin, we call it comino...

Anonymous said...

i don't even know what cumin is nor how to pronounce it properly, nor do i own it, nor do i plan on buying it nor do i plan on ever following a recipe that would require me to buy it, thanks to God, we are a cumin free household.

MeBeth said...

My mother is anti-cumin - I'm so glad you revealed the antidote!

And if you are ever bored, and not knowing what to post, I'm sure none of us cumin-loving readers would mind a gander at that chili recipe.

Anonymous said...

I believe, much to my horror & dismay, that I am living on a continent entirely devoid of cumin. I'm thinking a dash of cumin on my morning allotment of faux eggs would be an improvement.

But, actually, my true love right now is a lone cardamom pod that sits on my keyboard scenting the vicinity. She's losing some of her vim in the dry air, and I crave an accompanying sniff of cloves or nutmeg.

By the end of the season I may just be taking the insides of chai tea bags and lining them carefully up on a mirror with a razor blade, sniffing it up with a 20 dollar bill.

I'm all about the cumin, Bill.


Boston Nation said...

As Troy Brown would say; We're out of Cumin!

Leone said...

Hey, I tried the cumin nutmeg trick last night and it works! Thanks! Leone

Anonymous said...

I did the nutmeg trick after my girlfriend said she hated cumin and it worked! WOW! This is awesome. Thank you!8057