H. Allen Smith, on the deadly serious subject of chili, as quoted here in 2005:
Mr. [Frank X.] Tolbert of Dallas, who appears to be spokesman for the group called the International Chili Appreciation Society, declares that acceptable chili should contain no tomatoes, no onions, and no beans. This is a thing that passeth all understanding, going full speed. It offends my sensibility and violates my mind. Mr. Tolbert criticizes Lyndon Johnson’s chili recipe because it leaves out beef suet and includes tomatoes and onions. Yet the President’s chili contains no beans. To create chili without beans, either added to the pot or served on the side, is to flout one of the basic laws of nature. I’ve been told that when I was a baby and it came time to wean me, I was fed Eagle Brand Milk with navy beans frappéd into it. Thereafter, all through childhood and adolescence, I ate beans three for four times a week. If Chili Bill, back there in Illinois, had served his chili without beans, I would surely have deserted him and bought chocolate sodas for my lunch.
Tam and people in the southwestern U.S. look askance at what we call chili up here in soybean-and-corn country. It’s a flavorful stew with ground beef, canned tomatoes, red kidney beans, onion, a little chili powder and, typically, elbow macaroni. I skipped the pasta and added a small can of mild green chilis, some hot Italian sausage with the beef, a single fresh tomato along with the canned, and good dark chili powder. It’s still nothing a Texan would call chili, so I put the word in quotes or name it by describing the contents, in order to avoid a long conversation on what does and does not constitute chili. In truth, “chili” is whatever you call chili, usually a red stew with meat, much as “science fiction” is whatever science fiction readers read, usually about the future.
Which is true, I suppose, even in Cincinnati.