Fido and Me – Chili Dog

 Fido is making chili. No, not really. How could a dog stand in the kitchen over a vat of chili?

“I’m directing traffic,” Fido explained. “Hey hey hey hey!”

Fido has been beside himself ever since Mammoth Lakes Police Chief Dan Watson invited him to Sunday’s “Five Alarm” Chili Cook-off at the Bistro at Snowcreek.

The event is a charity fundraiser for the Gateway Project, and Watson—he is a big Fido fan and a lover of canines everywhere—asked a special favor of Fido. Fido learned about it in a special email from the newspaper’s publisher (yes, Fido has his own email account).

“Dan Watson personally invited you to participate in the chili cook-off next Sunday, and I think that is a great idea,” she wrote.

“If George doesn’t know how to cook, Shaylyn has offered to make chili on Friday (she’s leaving to go out of town) and all you would have to do is go the competition and represent The Mammoth Times.

“You can name the chili but among the unspoken rules of the Cook-Off is that you can’t reveal the actually name of the chili until that night.”

“I love-love-LOVE the idea,” Fido said, and he rolled over on his back and pawed the air. He does that when he’s particularly delighted.

I warned him that he wasn’t actually going to eat the chili—that human food was off-limits for him. This it was for the guests.

“It’s not in the eating,” Fido replied. “It’s all in the sniffing. I can sniff the difference between a great chili and an ordinary stew.”

So Fido contacted Shaylyn Riley, who also works at the paper. She can really cook.

He asked her what her ideas were. They exchanged recipes and now the two were in the kitchen, stewing up the concoction.

Shaylyn makes a great chili, with ground beef and jalapeño peppers, but Fido gently tossed in an idea anyway:

“It’s all in the paprika!” he exclaimed.

“What?” Shaylyn wanted to know.

“Paprika is a spice made from the grinding of dried bell peppers or chili peppers,” Fido said. “The seasoning is used in many cuisines to add color and flavor to dishes. Paprika can range from mild to hot. Flavors also vary from country to country.”

He argued for a hot-hot-hot paprika in the seasonings.

“A lot of people don’t really like hot-hot-hot,” she said.

“But this is for the Firefighters and Police Association,” Fido said. “I really do think they’d be disappointed it if were simply an ordinary chili.”

And so they went to work and I stood by, with an apron and a sponge. I was the cleanup man—the dishwasher.

“I never underestimate the value of a dishwasher,” Fido said.

When it was done, Fido said it was good that they’d made it a couple of days before the competition.

“It will give the flavors a chance to coalesce,” he said.

“Agreed,” Shaylyn said. “We’ll have to think of a good name for it.”

Fido found a spot on the rug and dozed. Before long he was fast asleep, the scent of Fido’s chili in the air.