Town Chili Cook-off
With leaves swirling around the street lamps and the smell of cooking beans wafting in the air, it was time for our Vermont town’s annual chili cook-off. The town closed off Main Street and over twenty competitors lined the street competing for the title of best chili in town for 2012 and a cash prize. Competitors not only brought their chefs hats, but their craziest decorations! While one booth showed off their chili pepper mascot, another grooved to the music of the 60s with their next-door neighbor plucked at a ukulele and wore Hawaiian print shirts.
Everyone was in high spirits with local bands playing on the street corners and activities for the kids. For $8, participants got a commemorative cup that allowed you to taste at every chili booth. You also received a ballot to vote for your favorite chili as well as your favorite themed booth.
I’m not a huge fan of super spicy food so I avoided the “Red Hot Chili” booth that claimed to have the “hottest chili in town.” I also avoided the booth that was pouring what looked like gravy out of a pitcher. After hearing comments regarding both booths, I’m glad I stuck to my gut and was a bit pickier than others. I swear flames shot out of a man’s mouth after trying the hot chili.
I was pleasantly surprised by a vegan chili made with barley and topped with fresh celery. Another chili I was a fan of was a white chicken chili with rice. A chunky tomato and zucchini chili also made it on my top five list. A smoky meat lover’s chili that would warm up any cold soul had me going back for seconds, though a second smoky bean chili just left me with smoke in my mouth. The only chili I wound up ditching in the strategically placed trashcans was one where the beans had not been cooked properly. Afraid I would break a tooth, I politely walked to the other side of the street to toss the beans.
After casting my vote, I enjoyed some street music and some delicious cinnamon apple cookies at a charitable bake sale before I headed home. With some new ideas in my chili recipe arsenal, I may consider being a contestant next year!