An Analogy for Boxing Day

Christmas as we see it on The Hallmark Channel is an amalgam of dozens of different religious and cultural artifacts. From Roman Saturnalia, to Druid and Celtic traditions, to Coca-Cola and Macy's marketing efforts, the modern Christmas celebration is as heterogeneous and random as the population of a NYC subway car in Midtown at 11:35 on a Tuesday in March.

One thing, though: Christianity has as much role in Christmas as beans have in chili. It's non-essential, optional and often omitted entirely. It would seldom be missed.

As you may surmise, my Christmas is utterly without religion. Or beans. And I like my Christmas - and my chili - that way.

So here's my recipe for chili:

Main Ingredients: 6 lbs ground beef 2 large onions 4 28-oz. cans of crushed or diced tomatoes 1 Jalapeno (hot) or Habanero (really hot) pepper 1/4 C. corn starch 1/2 C. lukewarm waterSpice Mixture: 8 parts Cumin 3 parts Black Pepper 3 parts Cayenne Pepper 3 parts Garlic Powder 2 parts Oregano 1 part Allspice 1 part GingerBrown thoroughly and drain the ground beef. Place in a stew-pot. Dice the onions and sauté until translucent. Add to pot. Add the tomatoes. Chop the hot pepper after discarding the seeds & membrane, add to pot.While stirring, slowly add spice mixture. Simmer on very low heat for at least three hours. Stir occasionally. Mix a thin paste from the corn starch and water. Stir this in to thicken up the broth 10-15 minutes before serving.Serves 12 to 15. Freezes well.-----------Using teaspoons as the parts for the spice mixture gives a recipe this size a medium bite, maybe a little on the mild side. Vary the quantity to taste; the proportion is what's important.

And here, in case you are wondering, is the reason for the season.

This article was updated on May 9, 2023

David F