Sometimes it’s the small things that have people engaged in never-ending debates, like which direction the toilet paper roll should go?
But in the great Lone Star State, what we defend even more passionately is anything Texas-related. Specifically, I’m talking about the debate surrounding chili — beans or no beans?
I’ll openly admit I’m a beans-in-my-chili kind of person. Honestly, I grew up thinking it was weird not to have beans in my chili.
But, boy, was I wrong about that.
If you live in Texas you’re making chili wrong if you put beans in it. It’s just not the Texan thing to do.
At least, that was the consensus of many residents after I posed the beans-or-no beans question to a local neighborhood Facebook group.
“Texas chili, by definition has no beans. Chili from other places…they can bean it up all they want,” Andy Tomczeszyn said.
Another resident simply said that beans are for “Yankees,” which just might be true as native New Englander Nan Hayden said that she’s always had beans in chili. And when she moved to Houston, she was told that’s not how it’s done here.
“I have participated in, and judged chili cook-offs in the Houston area for nearly 40 years,” Jeremy Goodwin said. “To be able to win a Texas competition, it is widely assumed that no beans are used.”
Goodwin went on to say that ultimately, everyone has their own idea of chili. One year while he was judging the Texas Fiesta at the University of Houston, he said there were two options that were on the opposite ends of the spectrum presented as chili and neither seemed to even meet the farthest stretch of the definition of chili.
Jeff Holmes said he put beans in his chili. He just calls it chili instead of Texas Chili. If he competes, he doesn’t add beans.
While many people say that a chili with beans in a Texas competition won’t make the cut, one resident proves it untrue.
“Beans and I have medaled in the Houston chapter of the Hydrographic Society chili cook off both times I entered,” Karen Souza Craig said. “My husband uses beans and has won first place and fan favorite.”
Many people came to the defense of beans as well, saying if there’s not beans in chili then it’s just hot dog sauce, or without beans they feel like they’re just eating a bowl of meat sauce.
“Chili is like pizza, you can include any toppings or ingredients you wish and it’s still chili or pizza,” Stephanie Keitt said.
Michael Shoemaker said that without beans, chili has no texture or taste.
The debate might seem silly, as one commenter said, and the debate will probably always end in a decision to agree to disagree. But if true Texas chili doesn’t have beans, I’m OK with that. I’ll just have to stick with my non-true Texas chili with beans.
Perhaps Stella Ann Stevens said it best:
“I am a 6th generation Texan. I actually did learn to swim on the Frio River. I have seen the Texans play in Palo Duro Canyon. … I have lived through the Battle of Flowers sniper, the Spurs when they were bad, the Spurs when they were good, the drought of ‘85 and 2011, Tropical Storm Allison and all subsequent storms. I take bluebonnet photos in the spring, I tube in the summer, throw a tent on the car and head to Huntsville for the first cool front and always hope against hope for a snowflake in winter. And I will put beans in my chili if I damn well please.”