Terlingua & Chili

Charlie, northern exposures


The Chihuahuan desert is well known for its huge skies and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. The heat of the day may be grueling, but mornings and evenings are exquisite. Early morning rain clouds promise hope, but the nourishing rain rarely makes it to the thirsty ground and plants below.

Posted by Mark Schuler

Terlingua, Texas, a dusty forgotten speck of a place. But at high noon on October 21, 1967, chili splashed out of its dusty bowl onto headlines all around the globe – the little town would host an international competition to determine once for all the best tasting chili in the world. Forty six years later hundreds of chili lovers still converge on the Chihuahuan desert to eat, party and sizzle in the 110 degree heat. But, of course, the real draw has always been, will always be the quest for the ultimate “bowl of red.”

The Cooks, young and old, enter “lesser” competitions all over the world, hoping to earn an invitation to Terlingua. Teams set up camp in the desert, fire up stoves and brew their own special blend of chili, dreaming of a championship. Their fixings are simple: only fresh meat, vegetables and spices will do and the chili must be prepared from scratch onsite on the day of the contest. No chili mixes allowed! and absolutely no beans, rice or pasta…

The Judges – anybody can be one – score the chilis on aroma, appearance and taste. Finally the world’s greatest chili cook is proclaimed. There are awards for the best beans and salsa and wings, too.

The Losers. There can only be one champion but everybody who comes to Terlingua leaves a winner. How could you not after spending a weekend under the austere beauty of a blue desert sky and surrounded by the Chisos Mountains? Next October, come see for yourself. Enjoy the hospitality of the townspeople, hike the mountains, raft the wild and scenic Rio Grande River – and have a bowl of red!


4 thoughts on “Terlingua & Chili

    1. Yes, the Big Bend region does have inspiring skies. I remember a photograph I took as a teenager of the Bend with huger thunderhead clouds towering over the canyons. Wish I still had that negative. I’m really excited about getting to publish this guest post of my brother’s photographs.

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