I try to keep controversy out of these pages, but word has reached me that Texas is disputing a resolution of the Illinois state legislature in 1993 that declared Springfield the "Chilli Capital of the Civilized World."
Please note the spelling: chilli versus chili. Chili is an old Texas border dish, originating in the 1840s. Chilli is from Springfield, dating back to creation of the Den Chilli Parlor in 1909. Was the name misspelled or did the Den want to pay tribute to ILLinois?
You may read the history of chilli, and of today's chilli parlors, in this issue of the Illinois Times. At one time, Springfield had more than a dozen parlors selling the spicy bean-and-meat stew. Remember Allen's Cigar Store, near the Post Office? Or the Sugar Bowl, at State and South Grand? The Dew and the Den, who could tell them apart?
The Den survives today as Joe Roger's on 9th Street, near the Lincoln home. They still offer a Firebrand chili, and if you eat one bowl, your name goes up on a wall list. Last time I was there, I saw the names of two nuns from Ursuline Academy. Way to go, Sisters!