Another great aspect of fall in the South is football. Most men in the South look forward to the opening day of college football, dreaming of a national championship for their chosen team. Seeing the team for the first time since the spring inter-squad game. Growing up in Georgia we had an option of two major college teams to back, Georgia Tech, an awesome Atlantic Coast Conference team or The University of Georgia, a driving force in the Southeastern Conference. You all know in my last article I spoke of how family and friends influenced our persona, well in our family we were Georgia Bulldog fans. I remember watching the game in which Georgia beat Notre Dame for the National Championship. Led by Herschel Walker the Bulldogs were unstoppable that year. These games were always watched with family and friends and in the South you can’t have a football party without great food.
Growing up my father was not a huge fan of chicken so the wings parties of today would not have gone over well then, but we always had chili. Some people say chili is not necessarily a southern dish and to an extent I will agree. Texas is normally where you would find chili, but the south has taken this dish and improved it with a southern flair, and yes I am prejudice. There is nothing better than good ole southern chili on a good cool day while watching college football.
Now you may not find this unbelievable and I guess anyone could stretch the truth but my family swears that their recipe for chili was the only recipe for chili that President Jimmy Carter would allow to be cooked at the White House. I take that with a grain of salt when I hear it but it is fun to imagine what if. Whether or not it’s true the recipe I was given as a young man is some of the best southern chili you will ever put in your mouth. The good part about this recipe is you make it as mild or hot as you like it.
Texas cooks will tell you that chili should never have beans in it because it takes away from the taste of the meat, but I would definitely argue that beans only enhance the taste. I was taught it’s how you cook the beans that gives southern chili its amazing contrast to the western version. You see cooking the beans is an art form in itself. One must always remember to slow cook the beans in a crock pot and add chili powder at the beginning. Another important tip is the addition of beer to the process. This is how the south has improved chili beans and the art of making chili.
There are so many traditions in the South during the fall that someone from another area of the country wouldn’t understand most. Traditions like tailgating, hog killing, chili, and the Brunswick Stew we talked about in my last article, can probably be found in other parts of the country, but the South took them and perfected them, “GO DAWGS”.
Mike Cannon - Contributing author
A southern boy, born and bred. He was born in Atlanta Georgia, and has lived in some part of the state all his life. He currently resides in Ringgold Georgia which is a bedroom community to Chattanooga Tennessee. Growing up in the south has given him a unique prospective of the culture and tremendous knowledge of the food that the southeastern United States is so proud of. He enjoys watching the Braves in the summer, the Bulldogs in the fall, and NASCAR in the late winter. He is an avid hunter and fisher. He loves a good party and once you get to know him you have a friend for life. Mike will be a regular columnist on our site, sharing stories about his life in the south, it will be up to you to determine which of these are true and which are simply tales.