Chile con carne

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Dec 24 19:45:03 UTC 2002

At 9:09 PM -0500 12/19/02, Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:

>    Supposedly, the first "chile con carne" citation is 1857.  Supposedly,
>it's an American dish.  John Mariani's encyclopedia includes that famous
>quotation that chile con carne is "a detestable food with a false Mexican
>title which is sold in the United States from Texas to New York."
>    So what do you make of this, which I came across today?...
>by William Davis Robinson
>Philadelphia: Lydia R. Bailey, printer
>Pg. 71:  ..."the end justifies the means."
>Pg. 84:  ..._rancho_*...
>*_Rancho_ signifies a farm...
>Pg. 150:  ..._chile_ (capsicum_)...
>Pg. 150:  For all culinary purposes, this vegetable is as essential to the
>Mexican, as salt is to the European, and indeed more so, because a Mexican
>would rather go without bread, than lack chile with his meat.
>(Yes, no "chile con carne," but "chile with his meat" is close--ed.)

I'd say no relation whatsoever.  Chile con carne, on which I tend to
agree with the famous quotation, is a specific dish--with many
variants--involving braised and/or stewed meat with beans and/or
tomatoes and some seasonings involving fresh chile peppers or more
likely chile/chili powder.  The context of the above quote is one in
which meat is served with chiles served as a condiment on the side or
involved in the preparation or both, either of which is far more
typical of Mexican food than "chile con carne" of the type found at
chile cookoffs in the U.S. or canned by Hormel.  In the context, I
wouldn't agree that "chile con carne" in the modern sense is at all
close to "chile with meat".  (And, yes, I'm aware that I'm spelling
that second vowel in the keyword inconsistently.)


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