Years ago a friend introduced our little band of friends to the wonders of a culinary tradition of the town we all adopted as home. In our places of origin, the food pairing of chili and cinnamon rolls was as foreign a concept as shrimp flavored Doritos. Chili was to be paired with cornbread and that was law.
We became happy outlaws.
There’s something about the combo of salty, spicy bean chili with the cinnamon sugar of the pastry that works in every possible manner. But the pairing was seriously odd when it was first mentioned. I remember being pretty apprehensive about eating it the first time around. Much like my firstborn with any food presented to him these days.
The schools here always serve cinnamon rolls on chili day. It is just a matter of fact that these two items exist together. Without the endorsement of the friend though, I don’t know if I would have ever tried it.
That thought made me wonder about the local dining customs of my hometown. What do I eat that is completely weird to out of towners?
My hometown was settled by Italian immigrants that were not allowed into Denver (history is really upsetting). As a result we had access to some amazing Italian restaurants in the area. I would love to know how the Italian heritage influenced dining habits as the city grew more diverse.
A food popular here in my new town is the Kraut Burger. It’s a heap if ground beef and sauerkraut baked inside a bun. It is delicious. Never heard of it before moving here for college, but now I cannot do without it.
This area was settled by Germans, cabbage and meat are kind if big in that palette. Now with the popularity of spicy foods in the area, Kraut Burgers are often served with chopped jalapenos, sauteed onions and a mess of cheese alongside the formative ingredients of the dish. The dish never lost popularity in the region, it just changed with the times.
I would love to get out and experience the local foods of my hometown and my new town more often. There’s a story in how we eat, and great history. With venturing into local restaurants (and more importantly avoiding chain stores) comes the added bonus of exposure. I was not a fan of the idea of trying cinnamon rolls with my chili at first because it was so new, so radically different from what I knew and that nearly caused me to miss out on something I described at the time as “amaze-balls” whatever that meant.
A lack of openness to experience is a poor excuse to miss out on stuff and frankly I owe it to my kids to show them how cool new things can be. There are plenty of “cinnamon rolls” out there just waiting to be found.