We hosted a chili cookoff here on Saturday night--twenty five neighbors & friends, mostly gardeners. It was a hoot.
Everyone brought edibles & drinkables--7 species of chili, 4 kinds of cornbread, a great pineapple cole slaw. Desserts. I love sweets but seldom indulge because they migrate to my waist. Made an exception (for which I'll need to walk MILES this week) for the three kinds of brownies, lemon cake, apple pie and cookies, and the 3 recipes of home-made vanilla ice cream made on the back porch during the event.
There was a fair amount of good-natured rivalry, more for the bragging rights than the prize, a nice, cobalt-blue garden pot. I almost got a different prize to give out, probably it would have been a perfect trophy for this neighborhood title, and I thought it was something that would be happily passed on to next year's winner--a foot-tall gold-flecked frog sitting in a yoga pose, its face split by a goofy grin. But I was pretty sure that the guys wouldn't participate next year if they thought that's what they'd get.
All of the entries were good. Good enough that you'd dream about them on a cold night. So it was very hard to vote for only three and the contest was close. My favorite was Rick's Road Kill Chili but it didn't win. Denny's favorite was Wild Boar Chili, which was second by only a vote. Third was Chili Bean Soup, an old chuck wagon recipe. My white chicken chili didn't even place in the top three...a number of people explained to me that in Texas, the descriptors 'white' and 'chicken' are never associated with chili.
We talked and laughed so much that I was a little hoarse the next morning, and still tired. A good tired. We didn't know anyone when we moved here three years ago. The Texas Hill Country is so much more a home to us now. More than a house or a garden, relationships are what bring a place home.