Well, I guess it's not only pastiche authors who try to force Sherlock Holmes into places he doesn't quite fit.
With a weekend full of re-shelving, trying to disappear two major musical instruments, I found that I really didn't have the time or imagination to spend on my entry to Saturday night's chili cook-off. And where does a Sherlockian go when he has no other ideas: Sherlock Holmes.
If you need to decorate a chili booth, and you just happen to have a six foot Sidney Paget drawing of Sherlock Holmes in your basement, that's where you start. An old lace tablecloth, some of those Victorian artifacts from your Sherlock room, a book of cooking hints from the appropriate time period, a deerstalker and magnifying glass, and you've got a decor scheme. All that remains at that point is the actual chili.
Now think about this for a moment . . . Sherlock Holmes and chili.
Sure, a San Antionio outfit had started spreading the word about chili in 1893, but can you imagine actual chili appearing anywhere at all in Sherlock's Victorian Britain? I can't.
So I titled my recipe "Sherlock Holmes's Properly Victorian Chili" and started to work backwards from there.
Beef. Beef was Sherlockian, so I cut up some round steak. England was well known for its navy, and men of the sea populate the Holmes cases, so I also wanted navy beans . . . but the local store didn't seem to stock big cans of navy beans, so I went with another white bean, the great Northern.
Given the nature of the Victorian era, a red chili just seemed too ostentatious for Victoria, so I decided to go with a "white" chili . . . but then, chili powder itself seemed a bit too flashy for the time as well. So I sauteed onions with my beef in a cheap sherry, added garlic as protection against Dracula, and . . . because I was seriously out of time, added three cans of cream soup from a soup company that has existed since 1869: celery, chicken, and mushroom. One last touch was a secret bit of seasoning that came from my dear auntie. Victorians had the utmost respect for their aunties. (Well, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.)
The result, the taste of which you can but imagine, actually won the "Most Creative" category of the chili cook-off. Of course, since the same category was won two years ago by an entry that used a pun to enter cookies and ice cream as its chili, I am not getting too big a head about my culinary skills.
Suffice it to say that when you're in trouble, when time is running out, Sherlock Holmes is always there for you, even at chili cook-off time. He's just that kind of guy.