Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Chili, beans, and marriage

I will begin by explaining, bluntly, that on one issue, I am completely dogmatic, utterly intolerant. With great effort, I can be polite on the topic, but my opinion is unwavering.


I am a Texan, all the way back to the Texas Revolution, with real live cowboys for kinfolk, and have been taught my whole life, "Anybody who knows beans about chili, knows you don't make chili with beans!" Tomatoes neither. Beef. Chiles. Not a whole lot else.

My personal rules for life now include, along with "never order fried shrimp in a waffle house,":

87. Never enter a chili competition in a UU Church.

Vegetarian chili? There's no such thing! That's like saying, "vegetable fajitas." Fajitas, by definition of the word, refer to beef skirt steak.

And yet ... I make chicken fajitas. Which are also an oxymoron. I am not dogmatic about fajitas. And everyone knows the best part is the grilled onions and peppers.

But the chili ... now, I have tasted some might fine stews with beans. And some delicious Mexican-spiced vegetable soups. But those aren't chili.

"You can call it a civil union, a domestic partnership, a commitment ceremony, but unless it's between a man and a woman, it's not a marriage."

Hey, there! Now, none of that intolerance! We were talking chili, remember?

So, where is the line on making a definition? Do we want to make it majority rule? Well, no, if we did that, it'd be a long time before gays and lesbians could have their marriages validated by the state. And how long would segregation lasted?

Well, how about going state by state?
Oh, please, just think of all those people in Cincinnati trying to pass off what they do as chili! Cinnamon? Spaghetti?

Die, heretic scum!

Definitions. There's a line somewhere, something akin to a public acknowledgment. If I make a giant pot of clam chowder and call it a chocolate cake, that does not make it a chocolate cake.

Okay, so communities make their own rules. For instance, the International Chili Society states:
Traditional Red Chili is defined by the International Chili Society as any kind of meat or combination of meats,cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA which are strictly forbidden.


I'm sorry, I had a point. It's easy to see how our emotions allow us to go off-topic.

So, that's their rule. Kind of like the Catholic Church saying you can only get married in their church community if you're Catholic. And straight. Or the Baptist Church down the road who says they won't marry you if you're openly living in sin. They have that right, within their community.

However, as far as I know, the International Chili Society has not been picketing Wendy's, which brazenly puts beans in their chili. Or suing the city of Cincinnati for validating the chili crimes rampant in that city.

On the subject of chili, I am a self-confessed, self-righteous, bean-bigoted jerk. And the state should have no province in supporting my discrimination. The state's job is to protect the rights of those poor, deluded souls (with inherent worth and dignity, God luv 'em), who insist on putting beans, tomatoes, zucchini, macaroni, and mushrooms in a pot and calling it chili. The state's job is to protect the free exercise of religion on its own property when those crazy Unitarians award vegetarian "chili" first place.

Maybe my heart will change one day, and I'll dig a spoon into a bowl resplendent with squash, beans, and TVP and say, "Mmmm, this is delicious chili!"

And maybe I won't.

But that doesn't mean that the two men who live next door to me should have to wait on my change of heart, should be denied the right to serve lentil chili at the reception of their marriage.

Marriage, not commitment ceremony.


Anonymous said...

You and dad need to be a team on a debate dealing with the intricacies of making a "true" chili. :) You guys would rock the house. LOL

Your Cousin,

ogre said...

I'm a shade more liberal. I don't mind chili being used to refer to other dishes, so long as there's truth in advertising. Chili is chiles and beef.

Vegetarian chili is honestly advertising.

So it chicken or turkey chili.

Even bean chili.

Just don't deliver me not-chili without telling me it's some sort of knock-off.

(Word verification code is too good to not share: "loser")

Charlie Talbert said...

Animal flesh in chili, hamburger, most often comes from spent dairy cows, because the grinding of their bodies hides the abuse they endured during the six or so years of their lives confined and hooked up to milking machines, industrial breast pumps if you will. They don’t make the best looking filets mignons. A non-abused cow normally lives 20 or so years.

They moan and grieve when they’re babies are taken from them within a day of birth – as any mother would – so that humans can take their milk.

Then there is the transport to the killing facility. Please read this. Please. http://tinyurl.com/2jsyt8 .

After you read it, you’ll probably think, “I don’t approve that.” Unfortunately, your approval isn’t needed. It’s purchases that are the lifeblood of this cruelty.

And consider that even though your Texas roots go back a long way, tradition isn’t always an infallible moral compass. At least that’s a lesson in the curriculum we teach our children downstairs in RE, giving them examples of our Unitarian Universalist forebears who questioned the generally accepted immorality of their day.

“The thinking man must oppose all cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition and surrounded by a halo. When we have a choice, we must avoid bringing torment and injury into the life of another, even the lowliest creature; to do so is to renounce our manhood and shoulder a guilt which nothing justifies.” Albert Schweitzer

ms. kitty said...

Yeah, I like chilinobeans best too. Then there's also green chile, which is just pork, mild green chiles, tomatillos, onions, and broth with a little cayenne if you want heat.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the EU battles over what can be called sausages, chocolate, and vodka.

When it comes to marriage, wouldn't it be interesting if the states simply stop using the term marriage, for any official purpose, and use civil union (open to couples of all sort) instead? You get this civil union automatically if you get married in church. The fundies can keep their "sanctity of marriage".

Anonymous said...

This is a very sweet defense of same-sex marriage. Not a simple feat.

ccr in MA said...

What an excellent analogy! Well argued.

SC Universalist said...

I would be more understanding of your argument if I hadn't heard that Texans believe that BBQ contains cow instead of pig. ;-)

Earthbound Spirit said...

Nice analogy, LE. Four states down, 46 to go.