My family has a very simple chili recipe.
Ground beef, tomato sauce, kidney beans, baked beans, and chili powder. Pretty hard to screw up, right?
I thought so, too.
Eager to show Warren an easy meal to prepare on the road, we piled the ingredients into two pots — one for each of us. The plan was to make a double-batch, so we’d have leftovers for the next few days.
I told him to add chili powder to taste. Little did I know the trouble that would cause.
“Can we combine pots?” he asked. “Mine’s too spicy.”
I took a spoonful. How bad could it be? I thought.
A raging inferno would be closer to the truth. Sweat began to pour from my face.
“How much did you put in?!” I asked, bewildered.
“I didn’t know it could get that hot!” he replied.
Fine, I thought. We can still fix this.
My pot was much milder, and if all went well, we’d end up with a slightly spicy chili.
If only it were that simple.
We tried mixing the two pots together, to no avail — still spicy. To make matters worse, Warren had already doled out two bowlfuls of chili from his extra-spicy batch. There would be no escape.
We sat in silence for that dinner, quietly suffering through the sweat and pain. We tried cutting it with rice the following night, and the spice still came through.
It’s been three days, and we’ve only finished the leftovers now.
Tales from the road:
1. In the past week or so of travel, I’ve had one constant: failure. I’ve come out on the losing end in euchre every time we’ve played (much to Warren’s enjoyment), and I took a relentless beating from the waves the last time we went surfing. The one that haunts me the most, though, is my performance on the basketball court. As part of a hostel trivia contest in Surfers Paradise, teams were required to pick a player to compete in an “Around The World” shooting contest. I volunteered to go first… and promptly missed the first two shots from under the hoop, eliminating my team. Fate is a cruel mistress.
2. On that note, we managed to spend two nights in Surfers Paradise without ever seeing the beach. Something seems wrong about that.
3. Language is a funny thing. One of our favourite pastimes of the past week has been getting our Welsh friend to put on her best Canadian accent. We also spent a solid five to ten minutes with two German friends trying to teach Warren the correct pronunciation of Toffifee. He still hasn’t got it.
4. Brisbane gets a bad rap next to Sydney and Melbourne, but it’s actually quite nice. The city offers a free ferry service along the river, the banks of which are rich in public green space. Bike lanes are everywhere. The parks are full of people, savouring the arrival of summer weather. At night, the city’s Fortitude Valley comes alive in a burst of lights and live music. Not bad for a formal penal colony.
Things I’ve seen:
Byron Bay’s beaches seem to stretch on forever, beckoning surfers of all kinds to its breaks. We rented boards for the day on one particularly sunny morning. Despite the thrashing from the waves, it was a good time.
2. Waterfalls and rainforests.
Just an hour’s drive from Surfers Paradise is Springbrook National Park, a rainforest oasis of natural pools and waterfalls that seems a world away from the Miami Vice-esque palm trees, fake tans, and muscle shirts found in the Gold Coast suburb. Naturally, we had to jump in.
What I’ve been reading/listening to:
Andrew Jennings – FOUL! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote-Rigging and Ticket Scandals
Ian Fleming – Moonraker
Chance The Rapper feat. Kanye West – “All We Got”
Anderson .Paak feat. The Game – “Room In Here”
(Header photo by Warren Jones)