Texas chili is one of those dishes that people tend to love or hate. Numerous recipes have developed over the years, some with meat and others without, creating a spicy soup-like dish with beans, peppers, corn, and other vegetables.
This dish’s popularity is so strong that it has spent over four decades as Texas’s state dish despite the region’s love of barbecue.
What many do not know about chili is that it has a remarkably bloody history.
Chili Was Served in Texas in the 1860s
The first chili dishes were introduced by women called “Chili Queens” in San Antonio. During the 1860s, they provided these meals in the Military Plaza to soldiers operating in the area.
You could also find chili stands in Houston and Galveston, delivering the combination of dried cumin and peppers with tamales. Local laborers began to see it as a quick and filling meal, especially when they realized that beans went well.
If you go back even earlier, Mexican families served spicy dishes out of the slums and hovels around Texas. Some writers during the time described the house-based restaurants as serving a plate with “a fiery pepper that bites like a serpent.”
The original recipe was red pepper, peas, beef, and gravy for chili con carne in San Antonio. A newspaper article from the time says that “they always have enough to go around, for no stranger, no matter how terrific a durned fool he is, ever calls for a second dish.”
Then they say you can’t put water in him fast enough with a “steam engine hose.”
Why Is the History of Texas Chili “Bloody?”
Although laborers enjoyed chili on a lunch break, much like we want to visit a taco truck today, this dish served as a simple military recipe that could be taken almost anywhere.
If it was cold outside, soldiers could eat the chili to get warmer. It was filling, satisfying, and something to provide energy for a battle to come.
There’s also the history of San Antonio to consider. It could be argued that no other community in the United States has seen as much conflict.
Whatever the case may be, you’ll find that modern chili is still as tasty as its predecessor recipes.