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Chili lovers and cooks debate flavor

Posted on 04/05/2010

ASHEBORO, N.C. - What goes into making a really good chili? People in Asheboro will find out in two weeks during the Old Time Chili Cookoff.

The event will be held, rain or shine, on Saturday, April 17 from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. at Bicentennial Park in historic downtown Asheboro. The Golden Corral Cruisin' for Miracles car show will be held there at the same time. Organizers anticipate more than 100 cars will show up if the weather is nice.

Admission is free to both events. If you want to cast your vote for the People's Choice Award, you'll need to buy a $5 tasting ticket. You'll get a ballot and wristband allowing you to sample chili. The overall winner will take home $500 cash.

So what will tasters be looking for? Heat? Flavor? Texture?
Aroma? Color? Appearance? And does chili really have to be hot? Event organizers Cindy Wilkins, Greta Lint and Mac Whatley all disagree.

"It's a good thing we're not judging," says Lint. "We never would reach a consensus! Mac likes the Mexican mole sauce."

"Well, it's got an unusual flavor that I really like," says Whatley. "It's an unconventional chili sauce where I can taste the chocolate. Mole sauce is my favorite. However, regarding more local palates, I like chili with beans and even some pasta mixed in."

Wilkins says she likes traditional North Carolina thick chili. "I don't want it runny. I like mine chunky. I want to see the vegetables. Well, you can mix them up in a blender and create a thick sauce, but as long as I know they're in there, I'm happy."

On the flip side, Lint says she just prefers chili without the beans. "I like the taste, but not necessarily what they do to me," she chuckles. "You know, few will admit that!"

She adds that the older she gets, the more she appreciates the combination of heat and sour cream. "It's the after-affect, the one that sneaks up on you that I like," she explains. So her plan is to eat some chili, neutralize the heat with some home made ice cream and wash it all down with cold beer. Varsity Sports Restaurant will provide the beer tent.

Throughout the past two years, Lint has interviewed quite a few cooks and she's learned that it's best to test your recipe before you enter it. "Cooks have told me that when you're cooking several gallons of chili, the consistency may not be the same as if you're cooking a smaller amount for your family. Some beans stay firm; others get mushy. Not all meats cook up the same way."

The Old Time Chili Cookoff is still accepting cooks. For more information, log onto www.OldTimeChiliCookoff.com or call Cindy Wilkins at 430-8372.

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