Last Friday, one of my colleagues announced that we needed more people to enter the chili cook-off the following Monday. I have never participated in the cook-off. Why? Real simple. I don’t cook.
As Maria and Mario attest “dad is a good cook with the grill and mom is a good cook with the microwave.”
I agreed that I’d submit a chili because I figured I could make extra to feed the family for a couple of days. On Sunday, I dropped Ri off at basketball. Mario and I hopped in the car to head to Kroger’s to purchase a gift card for Mario’s friend’s birthday.
“I volunteered to make chili for a cook-off at work, Mario. We need to get some ingredients when we are at Kroger’s.”
“What’s a cook off, mom?”
I explained to him that three OSU football players come in and taste all the chilis and choose a winner. The winner gets a football (I embellished the story a bit – it’s two former players and an athletics outreach director and the football stays in the office, but hey, I had to capture his attention).
“Mom, we have to win!”
He asked for my phone and typed in “world’s greatest chili recipe ever.” He handed me my phone with the first recipe that came up. I made him help me get all the ingredients, which he merrily did.
“We are gonna win, mom.”
I made the chili later in the evening while Mario was at his party. He came home and saw the skillet and smelled the goodness. I gave him a bite and he smiled. “That’s gonna win.”
And sure enough, Stan Jefferson and the two young men he brought with him chose our chili as the winner. I squealed when they called out my chili as the winner like I had won a trip to the Bahamas. I was so excited to tell Mario (it had to be the salsa addition to the chili mix).
I walked in the door with the football in my book bag. Mario was looking at his iPad. I whipped out the football and broke the news. Mario jumped up and fist bumped me. I knew we’d win, mom!”
It helped that I used two pounds of ground beef – double the amount called for – knowing my audience would appreciate that call. But I believe it was Mario’s optimism that ultimately pushed us to victory. He tasted victory all along.