SO FOR the last few days, I have been in a funk, a little off my feed, and yesterday morning I finally realized why. I had a gum-line infection which was manifesting as
a deep toothache. A visit to the dentist confirmed this-- or at least proved nothing else evidently wrong-- so after a third dose of a VERY stout antibiotic, I decided I owed myself a very stout lunch. Thus, chili rice. This is something my parents introduced me too in my youth, originally meant to be an economical dish of about half chili and half rice, but I make it with about a 2 to 1 ratio of chili to rice, about three times the amount of cheese my Mom would put on it, and about twice as much sour cream as she would have allowed me to have.
Let me give you a cross section of that.
And beer is the proper beverage for this. I spiced up the chili with both chili garlic and regular Cholula, along with cracked green and black peppercorn. The cheese is something new in Kraft's line of shred mixes, what they call Classic Melt: American process cheese shreds with Wisconsin sharp cheddar, Vermont white cheddar and Monterey Jack. A well travelled cheese indeed? It's fine stuff, but, as the Wifey points out, it has about twice the sodium of the usual Mexican cheese blend, So I don't think I will be making it a regular in the rotation. My sodium intake is monumentally high as it is.
This is almost the movie of the day, in that it is almost a movie, and I almost watched it.
Not that it wasn't well done. The 80% or so I watched of it was quite nicely done, with some sharp, surprising dialogue, some fine character acting, especially from Ally Sheedy, who took what I thought was a fairly superfluous character and investing her with a very welcome sense of presence, and Casper Van Dien, who did a smashing job in what was all but a bit part as a tough, wise and pragmatic officer, coming in and taking control of a very bad situation. (Also, a couple of really great scenes: one where a character is interrupted berating another at gunpoint by the arrival of room service, and explains, "I wasn't sure how long this was gonna take, so I ordered us lunch." One where the conventions of made-for-TV movies were circumvented: instead of accusing the college-boy commissioned officer of "fucking with my men," he accuses him of "having a hard-on" for them, which turned into quite an affecting little scene.
Still, it was a TV movie, and it was a fake Vietnam story, and I really have very little patience when writers make up fake versions of the Mai Lai massacre in service of fake stories about post traumatic stress disorder and the number and state of our MIA's from the conflict. And as well done as it was, I don't know that I would give it a complete airing, just on those grounds. Although I don't know that I wouldn't. Like I said, it was mighty well done.
The first part I missed, when I nipped out to the store for the cheese mix, was a bit of exegesis I probably could have filled in pretty easily, maybe eight minutes or so, after which they went back into the thick of the Vietnam War part of the tale. The second part I missed while I was out assembling the dish, which, as you might have guessed, took more than a bit of attention and precision. I came back into the room with the assembled dish, and, boom. Closing credits.
So I almost watched it. I know how it goes, I know it has some excellent bits. But I have no idea how it ends.
So do I recommend it? No idea. For many years after leaving my parent's house, I held the opinion that chili was something to be taken straight: no beans, no veggies, no starch, meat, spice and sauce. (Although later I started adding onions, cheese, and sour cream, which, had you asked, I would have described as "the purist's cheat. Which would be a great title for a novel.)
Also, the real reason this crops up is that no one sells a chili that stands up to basic doctoring these days, so the rice, nice as it is, is actually something of a crutch. So while it may be a really, really well done chili, after all, it's still a made for TV chili.
Labels: Cheese, Chili, Rice