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The chili house mystery

Original post made on Feb 10, 2016

A recent round of downtown demolition revealed a curious puzzle for Mountain View's history buffs.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 10, 2016, 10:15 AM

Comments (10)

Posted by Maybe just a sign
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 12:59 pm

What if they painted the sign, but never got much farther than that and never opened up.

Posted by tommygee54
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 10, 2016 at 2:43 pm

How about checking old phone books of the time period...if there are any available.

Posted by Ken
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 3:54 pm

I have lived here 50 years and can'take remember it. Curious now!

Posted by Intersting but
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 4:27 pm

It may have never even existed past the creation of the sign. That may be why there isn't any record.

Posted by The Godfather
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 10, 2016 at 5:05 pm

I remember "Art's Chili Bowl" back in the early 60's, around the 1500 block of El Camino Real. If I recall, Art had moved there from someplace closer to Castro Street.

Posted by Max Hauser
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 10, 2016 at 5:41 pm

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Thanks tommygee and Godfather. Phonebooks are a good idea. And Candace from the library also pointed out Art's Chili Bowl (in Jan.-31 comment I added to the post linked above) but I'm interested to hear it may have moved within the neighborhood, that's rather suggestive. If anyone else has early memories of Art's or its move, please post here.

Meanwhile, friends emailed various info saying more about the early-1900s US chili craze (which I only heard of when the strange "A&A" sign prompted me to read up on chili in a food reference book, cited in the linked post). From a current chili-centric website:

". . . chili had become somewhat of a national dish. Chili parlors sprang up all over the country, and many small-town cafes served little else than chili. By the depression years, there was hardly a town that didn't have a chili parlor, even if it was nothing more than a hole-in-the-wall place with half-a-dozen bar stools in front of the linoleum-topped counter."

Posted by Dennison
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:51 pm

I wonder if the chili back would be similar to ours?
I would imagine, esp in the depression era, that it might have much less meat.

My grandpa and his friends would use the phrase "chili-beans" to describe
a dish much more bean than anything else. BBQ beans would get then monicker as well. For low cost food in those days, beans would fit the bill.

Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2016 at 6:42 pm

There's actually a chili society and they do not allow beans or pasta in their competitions.

Serious chili aficionados agree that the original incarnation did not have beans which were added later (as was garlic and tomatoes). However, the addition of beans happened such a long time ago that many will say that chili with beans is not inauthentic.

The dish's name is "chili con carne" so meat is required as is dried chile peppers or powder. The meat is cooked over hours, so the more appropriate cuts are beef chuck or round.

This book from 2000 (excerpt from Google Books) indicates that the chili con carne in the late 19th century was basically cubed beef and dried chiles. By WWI, beans were an accepted ingredient, and by WWII, garlic and tomatoes.

Web Link

While the Google Books excerpt does not include the 1896 War Department document's recipe, I found it right here:

Web Link

Rather unsurprisingly, my 1979 edition of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook includes a chili con carne recipe (beanless) which is probably very close to typical rendition at the end of the nineteenth century. Here's a webpage that basically has this recipe. The 1979 Fannie Farmer version uses shortening instead of bacon fat.

Web Link

I'm glad the MV Voice posted this, I learned something about an iconic American dish through my research.

Posted by Member
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 15, 2016 at 2:20 pm

As they were tearing down those buildings here was one other building sign exposed before it was completely torn down and it said lawnmower. Does anyone remember a lawnmower shop there?

Posted by Pizan209
a resident of another community
on Mar 25, 2016 at 8:19 am

Pizan209 is a registered user.

Art was an awesome ol Guy. His wife Alice had dies years before I got to know Art round the late 60s. It was not uncommon to see customers cooking there own Hamburgers, fries or Milk shakes. Art had a big ol broken down recliner chair in front of his Black and white TV. Since he was hard of hearing he had a speaker in a can, so he could hear his tv. If you waled down the hallway on the right were the bathrooms and the hallway ended in Art's Bedroom. I used to help him wash dishes or cook for the short time we were there to eat. He would then give me 3 Silver Dollars, he loved silver dollars....I remember a Furniture store that was on the corner and it had big letters NUDE then smaller size Furniture...Always thought that was funny.

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