“Haggis in Chili?” many people asked disbelievingly…
“It's like nothing you have ever tried before”
“Our Chili has lots of heart!”
Standing like a market hawker, I served up chili to people lined up with their plates. While my co-chefs took their turns serving up our creation, I played tunes on my accordion or went around and sampled other chili creations at the 9th Annual City of Vancouver Employee's United Way Chili Cook-Off.
It was an act of serendipity that brought me together with my fellow Vancouver Library workers Dawn and Alison for the act of creating a haggis chili. The week before I had picked up my leftover haggis from the Flamingo Chinese Restaurant where 20 one-pounders had been in deep freeze since the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners in January. What does one do with left over haggis? Make Chili? Sounded good enough for us and we were on a mission!
We each arrived soon after 10am, at the City Councillor parking lot which was decked out with a large tent, lots of festiva balloons to resemble a carnival site. We quickly found our table complete with poster and our name: Gung Haggis Fat Chili.
While Alison set to work dicing the onions and opening the tomato cans, Dawn and I set about to decorate our 2 yards of turf. All around us the experienced chili cook-off contestants were wearing costumes and had elaborate display backdrops trumpeting their team theme.
There was “The Chili that Shagged Me,” with the team dressed up as Austin Powers Movie wannabees – although I saw nobody vaguely resembling Elizabeth Hurley. There was somebody dressed up as a buffalo, since their team was serving up a buffalo chili. There was somebody dressed up as a cow. And the team that won the display prize – Firefighters! they brought city fire-fighting equipment such as hoses, helmets, fire extinguishers to creat a booth that could serve as a recruiting display.
Many different city departments were all represented. Judy Rogers, city manager was dressed in a cowboy hat with her team name “Texas in the City.” There were teams from Human Resources, Parks, Sewers, Outside Workers, etc etc… and us? We were the Library team – promoting our multi-cultural collection and heritage.
Mayor Larry Campbell was there with councilor Jim Green. They had a stuffed turkey (by a taxidermist not a chef) on display, while Mayor Larry would mix up Margarita Mix and pass out non-alcoholic drinks “for atmosphere!” he would exclaim. At one point, Mayor Larry dropped his portable gas powered blender spilling the contents and ice cubes across the blacktop. “You're cut-off!” somebody yelled. Later on balancing the frivolity of the chili cook-off, Mayor Larry walked by our booth with a platefull of beefy chili. At first, I thought it had disagreed with him, and he was going to dump it behind the bushes – but as he sat on a bench and gave it to a homeless person, I realized his words had been “There's somebody that needs this beef chili more than us.”