Today’s entry is not really a cookbook, but it is a fun read and an interesting addition to any cookbook collection. A Bowl Of Red by Frank X. Tolbert is, as the subtitle says, “The Classic Natural History of Chili con Carne with Other Delectable Dishes of the Southwest.”
Understand this: Frank X Tolbert pretty much invented Chili Cookoffs, along with the other legendary chili master Wick Fowler.
It was first printed in 1953 and this edition was from 1988. I already had a copy of this but picked this up primarily for the inscription. I mean, it was a quarter, right? I think a goodly number of these sale books are from estate buyouts. If you have mementos and keepsakes remember this: no one but you has the same sentimental value.
Check out the inscription … this meant something to somebody. Heck, if I won anything at any chili cookoff I’d think … wow, I won, and I’d cherish anything, even if it was just a book. I hope he or she read it.
You should remember something else. Since it is going to one day drop into my hands, please tell us what Chili CookOff and where it was? Please? Silly me, I actually spent an hour trying to look up chili cookoffs. Sigh.
No recipes in this but it is chock full of deep and insightful historical fact and folklore. I loved the stories and the country wit. Many tales make my mouth water, like the one of Early Caldwell, legendary tamale maker in Athens TX, How I wish I could have tasted even a bite of one of his tamales.
The book goes through many stories like that, making it a quick read, albeit with breaks for the many meals it requires to get through. It follows the culinary history of the southwest. I love the quote in the “prologue.” It is a good indicator that the source material fits the subject matter … at that point (probably in the 40s or early 50s) Cap Warren had been cooking for cowboys for fifty years.
In short, if you can enter a chili cookoff and win a copy of this book, please do. If that seems a bit far-fetched, trust me, if you can find a copy by more normal means, it is a good read and you’ll be glad you read it.