It is generally thought that the earliest versions of chili were made by the very poorest people. J. C. Clopper, the first American known to have remarked about San Antonio’s chili carne, wrote in 1926: “When they have to pay for their meat in the market, a very little is made to suffice for a family; this is generally into a kind of hash with nearly as many peppers as there are pieces of meat – this is all stewed together.”
According to an old Southwestern American Indian legend and tale (several modern writers have documented – or maybe just passed along) it is said that the first recipe for chili con carne was put on paper in the 17th century by a beautiful nun, Sister Mary of Agreda of Spain. She was mysteriously known to the Indians of the Southwest United States as “La Dama de Azul,” the lady in blue. Sister Mary would go into trances with her body lifeless for days. When she awoke from these trances, she said her spirit had been to a faraway land where she preached Christianity to savages and counseled them to seek out Spanish missionaries.
It is certain that Sister Mary never physically left Spain, yet Spanish missionaries and King Philip IV of Spain believed that she was the ghostly “La Dama de Azul” or “lady in blue” of Indian Legend. It is said that sister Mary wrote down the recipe for chili which called for venison or antelope meat, onions, tomatoes, and chile peppers. No accounts of this were ever recorded, so who knows? Latino women nicknamed “Chili Queens” sold stew they called “chili” made with dried red chiles and beef from open-air stalls at the Military Plaza Mercado located in modern day San Antonio. The state dish of Texas is Chili thanks in part to the Chili Queens.
While there remains uncertainty as to where and when chili was exactly concocted for the first time, there is no denying the affect it has had on dining in this country. Chili has been a go-to dish for cold weather, large gatherings, and many more settings. One thing’s for sure, chili is here to stay. Why not save yourself the trouble and come in to sample our SoLe’ Soups chili!