[Sca-cooks] History of the "stew" that is Chili

thebard3 thebard3 at earthlink.net
Mon Mar 21 12:17:23 PDT 2011

Not sure of any documentation at the moment but chili is basically just a Tex-Mex version of a Mexican stew. The original versions are usually claimed to come out of the version served as street food in cities throughout Texas ( look up San Antonio and, Chili Queens).  Basically it was a simple dish, take whatever tough meat you had, toss it in a broth/sauce made with plain red chili and stew till tender.  Was also usually bulked up with beans and assorted cheap veg depending on the money you had on hand.  So, in my opinion, basically a dish shared by most cultures.  And usually dishes like this were not buried to cook slower because the meat was chopped fine enough to be somewhat tender (like the real mexican taco, tough stringy meat chopped fine and cooked quick).

And yes, there are other versions of chili but, I am from Texas so, have no clue about them. I just eat the real thing.

Hope This Helps,
James P.

On Mar 21, 2011, at 12:45 PM, lilinah at earthlink.net wrote:

> Anyone know the history of chili, the American dish of beans and/or meat, tomatoes, chili pepper, etc.? On another SCA list i am on, someone is claiming that it derives from Jewish adafina/dafina/tafina
> The closest SCA period recipe i know of for adafina (without that name) is in the anonymous 13th c. cookbook where it is identified as Jewish
> [http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Medieval/Cookbooks/Andalusian/andalusian2.htm#Heading116]
> A Stuffed, Buried Jewish Dish
> Pound some meat cut round, and be careful that there be no bones in it. Put it in a pot and throw in all the spices except cumin, four spoonfuls of oil, two spoonfuls of penetrating rosewater, a little onion juice, a little water and salt, and veil it with a thick cloth. Put it on a moderate fire and cook it with care. Pound meat as for meatballs, season it and make little meatballs and throw them [p. 21, recto] in the pot until they are done. When everything is done, beat five eggs with salt, pepper, and cinnamon; make a thin layer [a flat omelette or egg crepe; literally "a tajine"] of this in a frying pan, and beat five more eggs with what will make another thin layer. Then take a new pot and put in a spoonful of oil and boil it a little, put in the bottom one of the two layers, pour the meat onto it, and cover with the other layer. Then beat three eggs with a little white flour, pepper, cinnamon, and some rosewater with the rest of the pounded meat, and put this over the top of the pot. Then cover it with a potsherd of fire  until it is browned, and be careful that it not burn. Then break the pot and put the whole mass on a dish, and cover it with "eyes" of mint, pistachios and pine-nuts, and add spices. You might put on this dish all that has been indicated, and leave out the rosewater and replace it with a spoonful of juice of cilantro pounded with onion, and half a spoonful of murri naqi'; put in it all that was put in the first, God, the Most High, willing.
> Comments in [square brackets] from the translator, Charles Perry, who noted:
> A version of adafina (from an Arabic word meaning "buried treasure," related to the word madfun, "buried," which is found in the name of this dish), the Sephardic equivalent of the Ashkenazi dish cholent, which could be left in the oven overnight on Friday so that Jewish housewives wouldn't have to violate the Sabbath by cooking.
> -------
> Nothing like chili (surprise, surprise) and not much like modern adafina (North African) recipes i know or variations called Hameen/Chamin (Middle Eastern) and Cholent (Ashkenazi, north eastern Europe), depending on region. Each of the three dishes is basically a hearty filling stew, prepped on Friday before Shabbat starts at sundown. Since a fire cannot be kindled on Shabbat, and food cannot be cooked during Shabbat in the usual ways, this dish was traditionally put in a baker's oven and cooked slowly in the residual heat and eaten on Saturday for lunch. (Shabbat ends Saturday at sundown, when the new day starts, according to the Jewish calendar). Nowadays, some people use crock pots with timers.
> Most of the modern adafina recipes i turned up include rice, onions, meat, and spices (no beans); sometimes dried fruit; sometimes those eggs slow cooked overnight in their shells.
> The Hameen/Chamin recipes also used rice, no beans.
> Ashkenazi Cholent recipes i found often included(New World) beans, along with meat and onions, although some used potato, others used barley, and yet others included two or all three of those filling carbs.
> So, is there a chili equivalent early on, before New World beans made it to northern and eastern Europe?
> -- 
> Ellen
> on the cusp of Oakland-Emeryville-Berkeley
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