Imagine a damp, cold, rainy day in Milano, Italy in 1988. One young, bored expat trying to figure out his role in Italy (and the world, really) is presented with a copy of a book called A Bowl of Red and a bag of chile powder. I was compelled to make the stew and the aromas and flavors made me so homesick, I was near tears. Chiles and cumin weren’t standard fare for me in Milano. I was pretentious and fancy, as only the young can be, but this wallop of nostalgia hit me hard. These flavors sent me back home and I’ve yet to leave. Since then, good chili has haunted me and the pursuit of the perfect pot is always a favorite activity. It’s not a difficult dish, but for it to be sublime, you need good chiles. You can’t fake this. You also never are fully in control. Time is your master. This is the pain and this is the excitement. A serious pot of chili can be an intimidating thing, especially when you’re with Texans. Just smile, respect their traditions and then go with your instincts. I love messing with them and asking what their favorite bean is for authentic Chili con Carne. If you didn’t know, Texans firmly believe that beans don’t belong in chili. Again, smile and do your best and have fun, and keep in mind that the debate about beans in chili will never end. I say you do what you like. Your journey should start with our chile powder: 100% new crop, New Mexican dried chiles, and it’s rich and complex. You don’t need anything else, except maybe for good instructions and we’ve solved this for you by making a free, downloadable ebooklet. Click here to download The Rancho Gordo Chili Manifesto from our Chili page. Recipes, lore and more.