A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from October 30, 2006
Bowl of Red (chili)

Chili has been called a “bowl of red” since at least the 1940s. A popular book titled “A Bowl of Red” was published by Texas author Frank X. Tolbert in 1966.
A Taste of Texas
by Jane Trahey
New York: Random House
Pg. 4:
Here, step by step, “as even a Yankee could understand,” from Sherman, Texas, comes Mr. C. S. Boyles, Jr.‘s recipe for “Bowl of Red” with two stern admonitions: (1) “Don’t, for heaven’s sake, insult an old and honorable ranch-country institution by tossing in such ghastly things as flour paste or potatoes and vegetables.” (2) “See that it’s red!”
Bowl of Red
YIELD: 12 servings
2 tablespoons shortening
1/2 pound fresh unrendered suet
1 large onion, chopped…Saute onion in melted shortening and finely cut sure in deep pot or large stew pan.
3 pounds good lean beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin (comino)...Have beef ground into coarse uneven little chunks. Mix meat with garlic, chili powder and cumin. Add meat and seasonings to the pot; cook 15 minutes or until meat is brown.
Pg. 5:
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1 tablespoon paprika (optional)
1 1/2 quarts water…Add remaining ingredients; stir well. Simmer one to two hours over low or medium flame until meat is tender. Serve piping hot.
Crackers, tamales, cheese, sour pickles, and onions are appropriate side dishes. Correct drink is black coffee, very hot, or a bottle of beer, very cold.
C. S. Boyles, Jr.; Sherman, Texas
With or Without Beans
by Joe E. Cooper
Dallas, TX: William S. Henson, Inc.
(Various mentions of “bowl of red”—ed.)
22 April 1956, Shreveport (LA) Times,  “Soda Jerk Jargon—A Dead Slanguage?” by Dewey Finley, pg. 3-F, col. 3:
Bowl of Red.—A bowl of chili.
December 1959, Texas Parade, “Bowl of Red” by Will C. Brown, pg. 27:
(Chili that wasn’t red was likely to be zestless and watery.)
Don’t be surprised to discover that the most unlikely-looking joint on a side street is serving a perfectly made “bowl o’ red”—which is how the waitress probably will shout your order back to the cook.
(Library of Congress record)
Type of Material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
Personal Name: Tolbert, Frank X.
Main Title: A bowl of red [by] Frank X. Tolbert.
Edition Information: [1st ed.]
Published/Created: Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, 1966.
Description: 120 p. 22 cm.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Monday, October 30, 2006 • Permalink

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