All fired up over chili

All fired up over chili

Last week, famously outspoken TV host Anthony Bourdain stirred up controversy in major media outlets when he called a beloved New Mexican snack a "colostomy pie".

The celebrity chef and food critic got the New Mexicans all fired up with his fecal discourse on the Frito Pie on an episode of the second season of CNN food travelogue Parts Unknown, which aired in the US recently.

He declared the Frito Pie was not indigenous to New Mexico but Texas, which he later admitted to be wrong.

Chill pill

Those in New Mexico might need a chill pill to go with their chili (the meat sauce) because apparently anything to do with chile (used in reference to the pod) is a hot button topic in the chile-producing US states.

Bourdain was crude, and his words more than a tad insulting.

But there's a comic effect to his creatively scathing commentary which makes for great TV.

Honest

More importantly, he is charmingly honest.

I'm with Bourdain on this one (although I wouldn't be if he ever says chilli crab belongs to our northern neighbour).

He manages to slap unsavoury lavatory metaphors on culinary creations and still arouse your curiosity enough that you feel the odd desire to try a serving of what he calls "warm crap in a bag".

Frito Pie is meat sauce poured into a bag of corn chips, topped with cheese.

It sounds like junk food, and probably close to something Victor Frankenstein would have come up with.

Aesthetics was never Frankenstein's strongest point, neither is it the Frito Pie's it seems. It is not the most photogenic of foods.

Compliment

And yet, Bourdain pays it a compliment: "I oppose everything this thing stands for, and yet, it is also delicious."

Bourdain has made the Frito Pie a topic of discussion elsewhere outside of New Mexico, and drummed up a whole lot of free publicity for the Sante Fe Five & Dime General Store where he ate.

Bourdain has since retracted his earlier description of Five & Dime General Store's version as being made of "canned Hormel chili".

And his response to the brouhaha affirms his first impression of the Frito Pie: "It may have felt like (expletive) but was shockingly tasty."

Share your views with Hedy at hedykhoo@sph.com.sg


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