Chili has been the official dish of the state of Texas since 1977. Grant, Marshall, Texas, convinced his colleagues in the 65th Texas Legislature that chili was the only dish worthy of representing the state officially. When the weather cools down, Texans think of chili, but the traditional red dish has a long history in the state. In addition, many factors from the history of Texas chili contribute to what constitutes a truly delicious dish. In fact, Texans love chili so much that it's the official dish of the state of Texas.
Although there are apocryphal stories about chili from the mountain range, the real heroes (or heroines) of the story are the Chili Queens of San Antonio. These women cooked for nearly 200 years for the men in the Military Square, but in the mid-19th century, chili became the dish they were known for. They prepared the dish at home and took it to the square to sell it. This continued until almost the middle of the 20th century, when health officials collectively promoted homemade treats that were sold to the public.
Ramsdell cites another example of a celebrity who visited San Antonio and didn't mention Chile by name in the late 1870s. While digging through newspaper archives, I found an 1884 San Antonio Light article stating that the exposure of Americans to chili and tamales, and the arrival of Chili Queens, occurred as early as 1813, in the midst of appalling bloodshed and an extravagant romance. Later, Arredondo launched a ruthless scorched earth campaign against Texas, imprisoning San Antonio women and children (and forcing them to grind a huge amount of corn daily to make tortillas) and summarily executing men whose loyalty seemed suspicious. It arrived in a mysterious (and now apparently lost) pamphlet called Gould's Guide to San Antonio that “mentions chili con carne and its availability in several places in the plaza,” Jameson writes. Few American cities, and certainly none in Texas, have experienced as much conflict, widespread terror, and chaos as San Antonio.
Tobin de San Antonio, a veteran of the Texas Rangers and the Confederate Army, the first commercial packer of chili with meat and responsible for importing chili to San Antonio “Coals to Newcastle”, successfully won a contract to supply spicy food to the United States. As a bulwark against possible French expansion in Texas, the islanders, as they were known, were encouraged to move to San Antonio with the promise of becoming hidalenos gos, literally “children of something”, basically, minor Spanish nobles. However, King did say that all visitors could eat spicy foods that sound suspiciously like chili con carne in private homes in Laredito, a poor neighborhood adjacent to the Military Square. Before that, the gospel of Chile had been forced to travel along stagecoach routes and cattle roads, which linked San Antonio to places like Abilene and Denison. The legend of Jesusita didn't completely disappear; renowned Latin author Josefina Niggli described Jesusita as the first queen of San Antonio chili in her 1965 play Eastern Lightning.
For those who were not dedicated to cattle drives, the chili arrived thanks to news from the San Antonio chili stand at the Colombian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. San Antonio has always been a garrison town; it's still so today, to a certain extent, and it's easy to imagine 19th-century Chili Queens packing their pots and pans and hitting the road when soldiers, the pillar of their peacetime business, went to war. Once in Texas, this army recruited an auxiliary Native American cavalry from several tribes, and had rapid success in East and South Texas, taking Nacogdoches and Goliad without a problem. The first mention in English of a chilli-like dish recorded in San Antonio was in 1828 by a Texan settler named J.