A few weeks ago I was invited to a Chili Cook-off here in Moscow. What a treat! I immediately starting having visions of a huge parking lot full of BBQ pits, pick-up trucks, and girls with jeans so tight you could count the change in their pockets. While I knew that this was only a vision and probably not going to be the reality of the Moscow Chili Cook-off, deep down I still was hoping that I would be able to at least taste something that had some semblance of Texas Chili.
The cook-off was held at the Canadian Embassy. The friends that I was meeting up with to go to the Embassy with were running a bit late so they were surprised when I made them move at a slow jog to the Embassy. My fear was that we would get there too late and be left with the pots of chili that no one wanted.
The Canadian Embassy is pretty sweet. You have to give them your passport to get inside, and I would have given up my citizenship too had I known that they had a canteen underneath the embassy that served cheap Dr. Peppers (along with a host of other libations)!
As feared, we had arrived too late. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place Chili Pots had been wiped clean. With my chin down I started back to the bar for another Dr. Pepper when a cute girl holding a half full pot of chili motioned to me with an empty bowl in her hand. My initial thought was "no matter how bad the chili taste at least I'll get to flirt with this girl for a bit". I started making conversation with her while she poured me the biggest bowl of chili I'd ever seen. I put a spoonful of her chili in my mouth while talking to her. It had so much cayenne pepper that it made me cough. When I coughed, the mouthful of chili that I had went up my nose. The cayenne pepper burnt so bad my eyes started to water as my nose started running (with bits of chili…gross!). Needless to say she didn't want to talk to me much after that.
In all honesty there were one or two contestants that made some pretty good chili. While they might not have won first place, they did manage to keep me from shooting it out of my nose.
The judges announced at the end of the night that next month's competition will be a Curry Cook-off. I may have to eat before I get there…
~The Moscow Correspondent