We arrived at the party late because as Husband said, nothing our friend does ever starts on time. He was right. The dinner party was to start at 6:00, we arrived at 6:30, the food wasn’t ready until 8:30.
Normally this would have caused me deep distress, but I decided to relax and observe, just like a real writer would. (Make note of that, please. I was impersonating a real writer.)
Husband brought me a glass of wine and soon we were in the midst of a conversation with a woman from Seattle. Her place was near the ocean and we simply must visit her, we must, she’ll give us her card, she’s completely serious, we simply must visit her.
I was half-way through my glass of wine when I realized I hadn’t eaten anything since 10 a.m., and there were no appetizers in sight. As Seattle Woman talked, I whispered my dilemma to Husband. He spotted a basket of muffins in the far corner of the kitchen – leftovers from their breakfast, perhaps?
“Do you have kids?” she asked us. Husband told her of our two while I tried to break off a piece of muffin.
“Do you find kids today feel entitled?” she continued. “I think they do. They just have such a high sense of entitlement.”
I shoved a morsel of muffin into my mouth. Immediately my eyes began to water — holy shit! It was a jalapeno muffin and I just bit into a jalapeno!
“Oh, I didn’t mean your kids,” the woman added, reassuringly. “I’m sure you’re raising your kids right.”
I nodded and took a gulp of wine. You know what goes really bad with jalapeno muffins? Merlot.
“You know what I think it is?” Seattle Woman continued. “I’ve thought about it a whole lot because I have nieces and nephews who have problems with drugs and others who don’t, and I’ve seen friend’s kids go through the same things, and you know what I think it is? What the common denominator is?”
“Faith,” Seattle Woman pronounced. “I think it’s faith.”
Only that’s not what I heard.
“You think it’s fate?” I replied, casually pushing the crumbs toward the corner with my shoe, while not breaking eye contact.
“Yes, I do. Maybe I’m totally off-base, but I really think it’s faith. Faith just makes a world of difference. Don’t you agree?”
“Um … no, I’m not sure I do. I don’t really believe in fate.”
Just then our friend’s dog entered the room and spotted the crumbs. I watched in horror as he lapped up the crumbs, jalapenos and all, then trotted off happily.
I watched the dog go out the back door. He’s made of stern stuff, that dog.
“I’m not sure I follow you,” Seattle Woman replied. “How do you not believe in faith?”
“I think we all have a choice,” I explained, the gulp of wine making me braver than usual. “Fate has nothing to do with it. We can always change what path we’re on. People use fate or destiny as a scapegoat.”
She stared at me. Oh God, I thought to myself. Now I offended her!
This is why introverts don’t like parties. And why we should never drink wine on an empty stomach.
Slowly, the full realization of what was happening came over her face. “Oh, no,” she started. “I said faith! Faith is what helps kids stay out of trouble. Not fate … I said faith!”
“Oh!” I replied. “Oh yeah… faith is cool.”
Just then dinner was announced. “It’s his World Famous Chili!” someone called out. A few cheers filled the room. I always wonder at the claim of ‘world famous’ recipes. Do they know about it in Germany? Is his chili all the rage in Australia?
Someone handed me a bowl and I tasted it. Not bad, I thought. Although it would be better if it didn’t have ground turkey in it. I’m not a fan of ground turkey.
“Isn’t it great?” the Someone asked me. “You know what the meat is? It’s turkey! And you can’t even tell!”
“Don’t forget my jalapeno muffins,” Friend’s wife called out.
I, for one, will not soon forget the jalapeno muffins.
Since we’re on the subject of chili, here’s my recipe for a not world-famous chili, but it’s still pretty darn good. It’s also vegetarian, but you can add meat if you want. Grilled steak or shredded beef or pork are great, but not ground turkey.
Somewhat Well-Known Vegetarian Chili
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 green bell peppers, or 1 green and 1 red, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon chili powder
- 1 Tablespoon cumin powder
- 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (omit if you want your chili tamer)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 or 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (they come in a can or jar, you can freeze what you don’t use)
- 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes)
- 1 cup water
- 1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans
- 1 can (15 oz.) black beans
- salt and pepper to taste
- Toppings: grated cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro, chopped green onions, chopped avocado, tortilla chips, sour cream (you get the idea)
In a large pan, saute the onion, peppers and spices in olive oil. Add garlic last and stir for a little bit more. Remove from heat and transfer to a crock pot. Add the other ingredients up to salt and pepper, cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours.
Serve with choice of toppings and corn bread. Your call if you want to add jalapenos to your cornbread, but be sure to warn people, okay?
Don’t serve with Merlot.