The History of Chili: The Official Texas State Dish

Everyone recognizes the state flag of Texas with its lone star.

And you may know that the official state flower is the bluebonnet.

But did you know that Texas also has a state dish?

It’s chili.

How did chili become the iconic food symbol for this lovely and very large state?


Tall Tales and Legends About the History of Chili

Tall tales and legends abound about the history of chili.

One tale is that immigrants from the Canary Islands who settled in San Antonio in the early 1700s brought their chili recipe with them.

A supernatural tale spins around a nun who is said to have ministered to Native Indians through an out-of-body experience who shared her recipe for a  bowl of red made with venison.

Another form of this same tale says the Indians shared their recipe with her.

Either way we’re thankful.


Chili Queens of San Antonio

A legend not in dispute also originates in the beautiful city of San Antonio.

During the late 19thand early 20thcenturies, Mexican women would cook chili in the town’s plazas at twilight.

It was smoke, aroma, and music as musicians strolled by.

These women became known as the Chili Queens of San Antonio.

For a dime you could get bowl of chili and a tortilla.

This festive experience of food and music attracted eaters from all walks of life, including businessmen, soldiers, cowboys, and families.


A Hearty Trail Mix

And speaking of cowboys in need of nourishment during those long trail rides.

A recipe dating from the 1850s describes a mixture of dried beef, chili peppers, suet, and salt that was pressed together into what looked like dried bricks, ready to be saddle bagged for the long journey ahead.

It transformed into a dinner fit for a trail boss once boiled in a pot over a campfire.


Texas: The Epicenter of Everything in the History of Chili

Since the lone star state appears to be the epicenter of everything chili, you can understand that Texas would not take this notoriety lightly.

Chili was crowned the official dish of Texas in 1977.

And not a moment too soon, in my humble opinion.

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