A tip of the hat to those who worked so hard to put on Saturday’s chili cook-off at the fairgrounds, but I have a question: Where was the chili?
When I arrived at about half past noon, and made it through security (in the form of a very nice but determined lady who insisted on moving an electronic wand all over my body until it tickled), I went directly to the sign that said “Chili” with an arrow on it, and followed the arrow.
What I found was a booth giving away samples, and I got in line. But silly me, I had no idea that what they were giving away wasn't chili. I waited in the queue until it was my turn and was given a paper tray with corn chips and a little foam cup with red stuff in it, and I handed over a dollar for donation, then went on my merry way. I had determined I could use the corn chips as a spoon, as no spoon was included with the sample, so I took one of the chips most shaped like a spoon, dipped it in the rather thin-looking chili and took a big bite. I was hungry. Oh, my goodness! Oh, heaven help me! It felt as though I had put my tongue on the on the burner of an electric stove.
It turned out that what I had was not chili. It was salsa. Which was logical, given the reality that along with chili, salsa preparation also was under way at the festival.
In the places I eat salsa — home, and at a few restaurants in town — the salsa is on the mild side. Yes, it has a bit of tang. But it doesn’t make me think my tongue is going to blister and fall off. I looked around, and saw plenty of people eating their salsa samples, and they didn’t look like they were ready to die. I even saw little kids eating it and smacking their lips. As for me, I couldn’t even feel my lips.
I went looking for the drinks concession, and found it, but the line in front of it was made up of about half the population of Madera.
When I finally got my diet Pepsi (lots of ice) the heat in my mouth hadn’t receded. But gradually, it went away.
Next year, I hope they have salsa samples for grandpas with tender tongues. And it might pay them to have more chili, too.