As one of the few survivors of Lakeside’s very first chili cookoff, this weekend’s 42nd edition conjures up lots of bittersweet memories.
Having attended every Mexican National Cookoff in one capacity or another since its inception, I suffer a certain angst that the event has maintained this dubious title after it was totally revamped just over a decade ago.
I regret that the focus on serious chili competition somehow got lost in the shuffle once the cookoff was reinvented into something more akin to a commercial country fair. In recent years organizers have had a hard time rustling up contestants. I wonder why they don’t go the whole hog for another overhaul with a different name and introduce contests in comfort foods like meatloaf and mac-and-cheese, or homemade jams and pickled stuff, baked goods, or anything that might stir greater interest in the culinary arts.