Most of the time, I'm the type of person who thinks that -- like barbecue -- chili is best made and enjoyed at home. It's simple stuff that dates back nearly 500 years to the first chili recipe, when Bernal Diaz del Castillo, one of Hernan Cortez's captains, described the Cholulan Indian stew in 1519 as containing "tomatoes, salt and chiles." (What's often left out in this tale is that the missing chili ingredient -- meat -- was meant to come from the conquistadores' slaughtered bodies after the Cholulan Indians killed all of Cortez's men.)
Today, despite chili being the official state food of Texas, it's not a meal that most Texans go out to eat. We go to chili competitions and sample the entries studiously and engage in fierce chili cookoffs, yes. We scream bloody murder when someone suggests putting beans in chili and will argue endlessly with one another over this one ingredient for days. (I've seen that here at Eating Our Words.)
But what about just seeking out a bowl of comfort when it's cold outside? Below are five suggestions for a bowl of red -- not all of them Texan, though.