Chili…whether you like it hot or mild, with beans or without, heavy on the grease or light on things like ground turkey and tofu, chili is everyone’s favorite dish of spicy goodness.
That goes double for Maxie Pierce, heroine of the Chili Cook-Off mystery series and proprietor of one of the food trucks that travels the Chili Showdown circuit selling dried peppers and spices. Book #3 in the series, “Revenge of the Chili Queens,” hit store shelves on August 4 and this time Maxie is in San Antonio helping to commemorate the city’s Chili Queens.
Who were the Queens? Back in the day, the Chili Queens were the center of San Antonio social life, women who spent their days at home cooking and their evenings in the city’s plazas, selling their chili. Crowds gathered, and so did musicians and other entertainers, and the plazas rang with the sounds of conversation, laughter and music, all night long.
The Chili Queens tradition continued in San Antonio from the mid-1800s (some say even earlier) up until the early 1940s when local government ended the Queens tradition.
In “Revenge of the Chili Queens,” Maxie joins other purveyors of chili to raise money for local charity–and gets mixed up in murder while she’s at it.
Who killed one of the wandering musicians on Alamo Plaza? And for that matter, who was the man? And why is Nick Falcone, head of security for the Chili Showdown, the prime suspect?
Maxie has a lot of questions and a lot of surprises in store for her. There are plenty of plot twists and turns, plenty of craziness what with Maxie spending her days at the Showdown as the Chili Chick, dressed as a giant red chili pepper (complete with fishnet stockings and stilettoes) and her nights on the plaza wearing the costume of a long-ago Chili Queen. There’s plenty of information about chili, chili spices and cooking, too, along with a recipe for the original Chili Queens chili.
And all that got me thinking . . . how much do you really know about chili? Take the quiz and find out! Answers are the end, but no cheating! See if you’re a Chili Chick!
- Which city has three times as many chili parlors as McDonald’s restaurants?
- Which famous outlaw refused to rob a bank in McKinney, Texas, because his favorite chili parlor was there?
A. Jesse James
B. Al Capone
C. Billy the Kid
- Where was the first chili cook-off held?
A. Houston, Texas
B. Phoenix, Arizona
C. Terlingua, Texas
4. What unit measures the heat of a chili pepper?
A. Scoville Unit
B. Thermal Unit
C. Capsaicin Unit
5. What’s the best way to cool off your mouth after you eat a too-spicy chili pepper?
A. A big glass of cold water
B. Eating a slice of bread
C. Drinking milk
- B. Cincinnati. Skyline Chili is famous there, and it’s served over spaghetti.
- A. Jesse James, who once said, “any place that has a chili joint like this ought to be treated better.”
- C. Terlingua, Texas in 1967. Every year on the first of November, the Chili Appreciation Society International holds a cook-off there.
- A. Scoville Heat Units measure the heat of chili peppers. To give you an idea, the Bhut jolokia (ghost pepper) contains 1 million SHU. A bell pepper has 0.
- C. Mouth on fire? Drink a glass of milk. Dairy products help cool down the capsaicin, the ingredient that makes peppers hot.