|Cumin plant and seeds|
So, Chili Con Carne doesn't always have cumin listed as an ingredient, but this is misleading.
Most, like this one:
and, depending on the region, some of:
Some recipes include both chili powder and extra cumin just to make the point:
chili queens" for some time during the 19th century, and was likely introduced sometime prior to 1800.
Regarding cumin itself, I found an interesting quote on famouschilirecipes.com:
Yet another theory is that Canary Islanders who were transplanted into San Antonio as early as 1731 used peppers and onions combined with various meats to make early chili dishes. This theory also gives credit to Canary Islanders for first bringing cumin, an essential chili recipe spice, to the United States.
|Chili con carne|
from Wikimedia Commons
Ideas about what chili con carne was, however, varied radically outside of Texas. One recipe bears special notice. Appearing in The American Kitchen magazine in 1897, a recipe for chili paste to be used in dishes such as chili con carne included cornmeal, olives and cheese!
Here are some more examples of chili recipes from all around the Web. Only the one marked with "**" lacks cumin (either on its own or in chili powder), and it's clearly the least "authentic" of the lot, as it's a modern, low-fat variant.
Circa the early 20th century, you could find recipes for extremely bland beef stews with chilies like the one published in the Boston Cooking-School Magazine, but these are obviously not the rich dishes that tourists to San Antonio had been raving about since the 1800s.
- http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1727,135177-241197,00.html **
On the other hand, as early as 1914, recipes in published cookbooks called for "chili powder" in chili.
The problem with the idea of trying to determine the "authenticity" of any recipe is that every household has its own traditions and history (at least that was true prior to the end of the nuclear family). When you try to determine what "authentic" is, you're really just averaging individual household traditions over a region. That said, however, it's pretty clear that cumin and chili con carne have been close friends for well over a century, and that there's no real "Mexican authentic chili con carne" because it's not a Mexican dish.
- The Boston Cooking School magazine of culinary science and ...: Volume 11 - Page 399
Janet McKenzie Hill, Boston Cooking School (Boston, Mass.) - 1907
- More recipes for fifty - Page 100
Frances Lowe Smith - 1918 - 225 pages
- Machinists' monthly journal: Volume 26 - Page 247
International Association of Machinists - 1914