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Dinner Tonight: Barack Obama's Chili

President-elect Barack Obama's chili won't win over any purist Texans, who would laugh at his beans and tomato, but they were never going to go Democrat anyway. His is a solidly Midwestern recipe with green bell peppers, kidney beans, tomatoes, and other inauthentic additions like red wine vinegar and the possibility of using ground turkey. He even calls for serving it over rice. The economical addition of carbs, usually spaghetti or macaroni, is a favorite pastime in Cincinnati and neighboring states. In Chicago, we used to look fondly as kids on Chili Mac, the kind of lasagna-like casserole made from a hodgepodge of cuisines that only the Midwest could invent.

So is the chili good? Well, it's not bad. The Barack spice mix includes turmeric and basil, two additions I thought were interesting (though turmeric sometimes makes its way into commercial chili powders), but it was a bit bland in the end. I had to resist the urge to tinker with the recipe, like using fresh chilis instead of bell pepper and adding some depth of flavor with honey or a dark beer. I did take one liberty, which was to add salt; the recipe called for none. Not a chili recipe for the ages, unfortunately, but let's hope he'll be a president who is.

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