The Life Unwired with Ben Combee (unwiredben) wrote,
The Life Unwired with Ben Combee

Vegetarian Chili is an Immature Artform

Just returned from the 16th Annual Lonestar Vegetarian Chili Cook-off, sponsored by the Vegetarian Network of Austin. It was held out at the Austin Zoo, southwest of the city. Fifteen teams were ladling out chili that they'd prepared that morning to a crowd of vegetarians, vegans, and their friends. You were issued a bowl and a spoon on entry to the park, along with enough tickets to get a taste of everything.

In general, I wasn't impressed. Most of the recipes used beans and TVP, along with a smattering of spices. In some, the TVP was ground fine, while others used TVP chunks that approximated the texture of meat. One chili used canned mushrooms to poor effect, and a few really undercooked the beans, leaving them a little crunchy. I like the VNA entry, an Indian-influenced chili served with roasted pumpkin seeds; they got my audience vote. However, as my friend Charles said, we could probably enter this next year and own the place.

I met up with lizardprincess and her friend K.D. at the event, and the four of us went off to see the rest of the zoo. Austin's zoo is a habitat for rescued animals, with many of them having been former pets or circus animals. I saw lions, tigers, cougars, lizards, monkeys, deer, bears, goats, birds, wallabies, and lemurs. The tortoise exhibit was impressive, with a wide range of creatures; I commented that it was like a perpetual-motion rock garden, with most of them stationery on the ground or slowly moving around.
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