Guten Tag, Herren und Frauen! You have not slipped into a bad Harry Turtledove novel; Germany still lost, Hitler was still abducted by the Reptilians and the Bildebergers for use in their genetic cloning experiments for the coming war against the Ant People and their Raëlian allies. Xenu be praised.
That aside, today we are going to talk about marketing, in apropos of the spirit of the American holiday season, which celebrates the holy trinity of capitalism, consumerism and people buying us copies of Cooking Mama VI: Mama’s Revenge for our Wiis, because that is what real gamers play.
One thing that always bothers me is products like Mountain Dew’s Game Fuel (now with World of Warcraft color-coding!) or the abysmal Mana Potions. You see, gaming, being a sedentary sport played by people in (mostly) stationary positions doing nothing more physically strenuous than pressing buttons, and yet we need performance-enhancing drugs like refined sugars, caffeine, and dubious flavors known only as “miscellaneous berry.” Which berries, I ask. Loganberries? Gooseberries? Berries of the nightshade plant? Inquiring minds need to know.
These curiously ignorant attempts at reaching gamers exploit our caffeine addictions, formed by years of worship of the totemic Doctor “Pepper” and his twenty-three flavors of troll mojo. Another curious tie-in is the horrid Gilette Fusion Gamer razor, which ignores all known principles of proper shaving for some abomination with four unnecessary blades and a “comfort” strip of dubious provenance. It is even marketed to a segment of the population not known for their shaving habits. I do not know what sorts of arcane chambers in which advertising sorcerers work their dark and foul devilry, but it is remarkably ill-advised. Note: I am a lawyer and available to advise you on the proper rituals to dominate the already-jellied minds of gamers, for a modest price of silver and virgin’s blood.
But what about food? Certainly after a dangerous shave while hyped up on “mana” potions, gamers must somehow replenish their vital nutrients before settling in for a testing bout of “leetspeak” over “Xbox live” while “headshotting” some “noobs” in “Halo?” Quotation marks.
Of course there is a source to “pick the best and most popular food for gamers,” because, as a completely different subspecies of homo sapiens (homo sapiens alludus), our stomachs have evolved a capacity to process mostly inedible inorganic compounds into vital fat cells which cling to our posteriors and jowls, much like a bear might store up for hibernation. Among the top contenders are pizza (delivered by your local slop house of choice… lookin’ at you, Dominos) or the fetid “Hot Pockets,” which are neither hot nor pocketed, but rather balls of indigestible dough wrapped around a type of tomato-based molten lava with a frozen-solid pork product core.
FIE! I say. We are gamer-kind, and we deserve epicurean culinary delights fit for the tables of monarchs, not this plebian slop dished out by the corporate overlords meant to lull us into complacency. In other dimensions of the Multiverse I am known for my fierce advocacy of the cuisine of my native land, a cuisine developed for hearty pioneers crossing a harsh and unforgiving landscape, trailing hundreds of bovine beasts, driving them to their eventual slaughter. As such, the cuisine is cheap, easily made with a minimum of preparation, hearty and as cruel and merciless as the land and fate of our bestial charges. The national dish of Texas is chili con carne, or, in the language of our Spanish ancestors, “meat with hot stuff.”
Texan children are weaned by taking them out to the barbed-wire fence, where their flesh is ritualistically pierced and their first chili spoon given to them. If the child survives his or her introduction to this hot and hearty beef stew, he or she is marked as an adult of the tribe and set to work hunting, gathering, fishing, or fighting our northern enemies, the Oklahomans. Ours is a difficult life, but rewarding, as we stand over our fallen foes, scalps in hand, the ululating cry of the Apache upon our raw and reddened maws, we are truly alive in a way you civilized people could never be. There is nothing better in life than to drive our enemies before us, to crush them, and to hear the lamentations of their women. We live, we slay, and are content.
I realize that this view of our barbaric simplicity is alluring, and wish to tell you that though many who are Texan are not born within our borders, we accept all who can follow the Path of Fire into adulthood, no matter age, ethnicity, or Wii-owner status.
Your first step upon this initiation is to kill a cow, dress it, and turn it into chili. Due to a technicality in the writing of the ancient ritual by Jim Bowie himself, may his knife be ever sharp, you do not actually have to kill the cow yourself. Simply preparing the meat is sufficient. In the interest of inducting more members into the tribe, I will provide the ritual recipe for the dish of chili con carne. There is some room for fudging with the recipe; for instance, many orthodox Texans will tell you that “beans” may not be added as a stretching agent to chili. This is true if, for instance, one is attempting to appease the gods at the Oracle of Terlingua, as the priests there are notoriously strict in their readings of the Canonical Texts. This, however, has more to do with class politics than any true dogmatic observance. In ancient times, many of the poorer tribes were not as rich in meat as others, and the use of “filler” agents such as the cheaper and more plentiful frijoles (read: beans) was widespread. Purists, or more appropriately, the bourgeoisie in Austin that could always afford plenty of chuck, defined the dish as “not containing beans.” Growing up as I did amongst the oil scavengers of the Permian Basin, beans were a solid, working-class staple, fit for any proletarian hero. Still, as you will no doubt be viewed as (temporary) outsiders, I have elected to provide the “cookpot chili” recipe, which uses none of the proletarian fillers. This is true royalist chili, the “safe road” for your initiation. I hesitate to say it is unqualifiedly safe, because no novice should approach the smoky, fiery heat of chili unwarned. The dish is prepared to be spicy; you must be prepared to eat it.
The ingredients you will need:
- 3 pounds chuck beef, either ground or cut into 1″ cubes
.25 pound beef suet
3 ancho chili pods, dried and finely chopped
5 chiles de arból, also dried and finely chopped
3 piquin peppers (bird peppers), dried and chopped
4 tablespoons ground cumin seeds
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 quart beef stock
1 tablespoon minced garlic
.5 tablespoon onion salt
2 tablespoons of Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (fresh is preferred)
one cup of dark chili powder (I prefer the Gebhardt brand)
2 8 oz. cans of unsalted tomato sauce
.5 cups cold water
.25 cup masa flour
First, fry the suet in a large skillet. Add the beef a pound at a time, mixing in a third of the chili pods each time. Brown the meat by stirring it with the chili pods. Once all the meat is in the skillet with the suet, add:
- 2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Mix well together. Once meet is entirely browned and the seasons evenly distributed, transfer suet, meat and spices to a large cookpot. In this pot, add the tomato sauce and the rest of the spices, keeping back only the chili powder, water and masa flour. Mix the water and masa flour together in a separate bowl until a thick, gruel-like substance results. Stir in the masa flour mixture, distributing the spices evenly among the meat and sauce mixture. Finally, add the dark chili powder a little at a time, stirring vigorously to distribute it throughout.
Cover and simmer for thirty minutes over a low-medium heat, stirring occasionally. For hotter chili, additional chiles may be used, such as Anaheim, chipotle, or habanero peppers, dried and powdered. For a stronger taste, use a cup and a half of chili powder, the fresher the better.
Once the stew is cooked, serve it in a large, shallow bowl. Traditional garnishes are sour cream, mild yellow cheeses like colby or cheddar, diced onions, chives, and corn tortillas, either fried crispy or warmed in a skillet.
Be warned: this meal is extremely filling and very much a “protein bomb.” Do not expect to do any strenuous activity for at least a few hours. It is also quite spicy, but as a plus, preserves very well in a covered bowl and can be reheated many, many times. It will “stick with you,” by which one tends not to feel hungry for many hours, up to days. It is perfect for those all-night gaming sessions, when being disturbed by hunger pangs will just not do. Make sure you keep a small glass of milk on hand to quell any nascent capsaicin burning. Remember, capsaicin (the chemical that gives peppers their bite) is acidic, and so water, beer or soft drinks will do nothing to end its fire. Only dairy or something extremely alkaline like chalk or baking soda will stop the burn.
Another popular dish is the “frito pie,” which is chili served over Fritos® brand chips, topped with shredded cheese. I have also had success in putting chili and cheese inside a flour tortilla to make a chili taco, or putting it over al dente spaghetti and topping with fresh mozzarella. Regardless, should you survive your ordeal, you must venture to Texas, to our ritual spot of Austin, and stand before the great Tower and make obeisance to the memory of all Texans gone before you. Only then will we press into your hand your sword, and allow you to join us in the barren marches north of Dallas to fight the invading Oklahoman horde. Welcome, brothers and sisters.