John Records:: What are you doing this weekend?
Me: I’m scheduled for European facial and Swedish massage, followed by a deluxe manicure and pedicure. Then I’ll be dining with a group of friends at Mi Piaci.
Okay. I actually didn’t say that. It went more like this:
Me: Nothin’ (read: I’m going to the track … what else would I be doing?)
John Records: How’d you like to be a judge for a chili cook-off?
Oh, I had heard a smattering of gossip about Lone Star Park hosting its Inaugural Lone Star Derby Chili Cook-off, benefiting two horse rescue organizations, LOPE Texas and Remember Me Racehorse Rescue. I had visions of a cook-off between Chef Jake’s “World Famous Chili” and Steve Asmussen’s entry of a can of Wolf Brand Chili. Everybody would contribute a few bucks to these two fine horse racing charities, snack on some chili, drink some beer, and bet on some horses. What’s so hard about judging something like that?
Well, John set me straight. The Lone Star Derby Chili Cook-Off is an official cook-off sanctioned by the Chili Appreciation Society International, Inc. (CASI). Apparently, CASI members and other chili-cookin’ competitors vie to compete in the renowned chili cook-off in Terlingua in November. “This is a big deal,” John emphasized.
So instead of reading my racing form tomorrow, I’m judging chili.
This requires a little preparation on my part, never having been a chili judge. So I performed not-so-extensive research last night. According to eHow, I need only a judging sheet, spoon, and saltines. No mention of Tums.
Additionally, columnist W. Bruce Cameron provided a little insight on what I might expect when I judge chili,
Chili # 1: Mike's Maniac Mobster Monster Chili
JUDGE ONE: A little too heavy on tomato. Amusing kick.
JUDGE TWO: Nice, smooth tomato flavor Very mild.
CAMERON: Holy smokes, what is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway with it. Took me two beers to put the flames out. Hope that's the worst one. These people are crazy.
I began to have a feeling of trepidation by the time I read of Chili # 5, Linda’s Legal Lip Remover,
CAMERON: My ears are ringing and I can no longer focus my eyes. I belched and four people in front of me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed hurt when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. ... Sort of irritates me that one of the other judges asked me to stop screaming.
Well, tomorrow I'll be doing my part to assist injured and retired racehorses.
Better keep the frozen margaritas handy!