Chili cook-off assignment gets chilly anniversary reaction
Mixing a chili cook-off with one’s wedding anniversary is pretWy PuFK WKH WH[WERRN GHfinLWLRn RI “poor judgment.” However, as has been painfully evident in this space over the years, I am not immune from stepping in it up to my ankles in the area of “poor judgment.”
The Blonde Accountant and I celebrated our fiIWK wHGGLnJ DnnLYHrVDry last weekend, and it just happened to fall on the same date as the Fourth Annual Chili Cook-off and Pie Eating Contest in Jenkintown.
Now one might think that these two occasions would have nothing to do with each other. And one would be correct. Except in this instance. A few days earlier, I had received an email from Jenkintown Mayor Ed Foley about the chili cook-off.
“Mike, would you be interested in being a judge for the event? It’s only about an hour’s commitment from 3 to 4 p.m. on Saturday.”
I responded: “Ed, I wouldn’t mind being a judge, but Saturday is my wedding anniversary. I have a date with The Blonde Accountant for dinner at 6:45 p.m. If I can do 3 to 4 p.m. and then be on my way home in time to get all gussied up for my date, then I’d be happy to judge.”
See, I have a weakness for chili. The problem is, I like it, but it doesn’t like me. I especially love chilidogs, but for the past several years, every time I have chili or chilidogs, I go into it with the understanding that I will likely need to be sequestered in the garage and away from polite society for a few days.
In addition, my chili-eating days have been severely curtailed over the years because I do not have the cast-iron stomach that I had in my youth. While most people like to sprinkle cheese or peppers or other things on their chili, these days, the only accoutrement I’m able to sprinkle on my chili is antacid. Yummy.
The other thing about chili is that I like mine rather plain. Meat, beans, chili powder, tomato paste … that’s about all I need. I’m perfectly happy with a store-bought brand because I am not fond of big chunks of tomato, onions and various part of the kitchen sink that some chili-makers like to put into their homemade recipes.
For all these reasons — and the fact that it was my anniversary — I really had no business judging a chili cook-off contest that day.
But the poor judgment gene is permanently embedded into my brain, so naturally, I approached The Blonde Accountant about the possibility of taking a hour out of our anniversary day and driving to Jenkintown for a community event.
“Hey hon, Ed Foley asked me to judge a chili cook-off on Saturday for about an hour. Is that OK? Our dinner reservation isn’t until 6:45 p.m. I should be home in plenty of time to get ready,” I said.
“Who is this guy?” she answered, like she was prepared to drop a dime and put a contract out on him. “And you’re going to be eating chili? On our anniversary?” (In the interest of full disclosure, the last part of that quote has been paraphrased because what she really said can’t actually be printed in a family newspaper.)
“He’s mayor of Jenkintown. Grand Poohbah, Big Cheese over there,” I said. “And I’ll only take small bites so I don’t ruin my dinner.”
I love community events like these and I attend a lot of them when my schedule permits. The Blonde Accountant realizes that it’s part of the job of being the local newspaper editor to actually be out in the community, so she didn’t have a major problem with me going to Jenkintown.
Still, she was troubled by the chili aspect of this particular event given my past challenges with chili.
So I went, did my job as a judge and took small bites of all the chili cook-off entries. For the record, I liked them all, so for those of you in the contest who did not win, you can blame the other two judges. I will admit though, that the overall winner did have a sign on the table that read, “Keeps you regular.” Given my history with chili, I could see where the other contestants might consider that an unfair advantage.
The bottom line, though, was that I suffered no ill effects from any of the chili I ate at the cookoff. I did not have one stomach problem the rest of the evening, a fact that I attribute to the quality of the chili recipes that I tasted in Jenkintown. In that regard, that makes all the contestants in the cook-off winners in my book.
In the end, I wished I could have stayed longer and eaten more of the various chili recipes at the event. But suggesting to The Blonde Accountant that we go to a chili cook-off instead of a fancy restaurant for our anniversary dinner would have been incredibly stupid.
Even the poor judgment gene in my brain wouldn’t encourage that level of idiocy.
Mike Morsch is executive editor of Montgomery Media and author of the book, “Dancing in My Underwear: The Soundtrack of My Life.” He can be reached by calling 215-542-0200, ext. 415 or by email at [email protected]hoo.com. This column can also be found at www.montgomerynews.com.
Members of the Trojan Times newspaper staff, from left, Lindsay Anderson, Andrew Brindell, Nick Gude and Josh Yoon sit ready to do some Halloween Mad Libs with attendees.