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Speaking Volumes: Get ready for National Chili Day. It could be a spicy celebration

The fourth Thursday in February marks National Chili Day. To celebrate locally, the Parrish Heritage Festival and Chili Cook Off will take place on Saturday.

Whether you are a competitive chili maker or simply enjoy eating it, the Manatee County library system has many choices for you.

From chili history to recipes to the great chili debate of beans or no beans, the library offers many books and eBooks about chili.

Of course, the most important ingredient in chili is the chili (or chile) pepper, and Judith Finlayson’s “Chile Pepper Bible” is a comprehensive guide to all things chili pepper related.

There are five major species of the capsicum genus with thousands of varieties. Chili peppers get their heat from Capsaicin.

The heat level is measured on the Scoville Scale, a system created in 1912 by chemist Wilbur Scoville.

For comparison, a sweet bell pepper would be zero Scoville Heat Units (SHU) while a jalapeno is 5,000 SHU.

The Red Savina, a relative of the habanero, can range from 350,000-577,000 SHU. And that’s not the hottest!



This book also has 250 recipes ranging from sweet to spicy and from dips to desserts.

“Chilli Cookbook: Over 150 Delicious Recipes Shown in 250 Sizzling Photographs,” by Elisabeth Young is a collection of recipes utilizing a variety of chili peppers.

The vibrant photographs may entice you to step outside your comfort zone and bring something with tentacles to your next potluck — like the spicy octopus and watercress soup. If not, there are dozens of more familiar dishes like salsa verde and guacamole.

Jane Butel, author of “Chili Madness: A Passionate Cookbook” has written 29 cookbooks and is an expert not only on chili, but a myriad of Tex-Mex dishes. She operates cooking schools throughout the Southwestern United States and has a huge following.

Among the recipes in this book you’ll find classics like the comically named Buzzard’s Breath Chili and newfangled options like White Lobster Chili. She also addresses the major chili “controversies,” including beans or no beans and beef vs. pork.

The library’s digital media service, Hoopla, offers nearly 2,000 cookbooks with unusual selections such as “The Star Wars Cookbook” and the “Unicorn Cookbook.”

There are also several titles devoted to making the perfect bowl of chili. The eBook “Cool Cooking up Chili: Beyond the Basics for Kids who Cook” by Lisa Wagner is written for budding chefs ages 8-11. Basic techniques and step-by-step photographs also make this a popular selection with adults who are less than confident in the kitchen.

Finally, if a cup of chili is not your cup of tea, check back with us in March when National Black Forest Cake Day is celebrated. It may surprise you to hear that cake pans in an array of shapes are now available for check-out at the library.

Call your local branch for more information on available titles.

Central Library — 941-748-5555;

Braden River — 941-727-6079;

Island — 941-778-6341;

Palmetto — 941-722-3333;

Rocky Bluff — 941-723-4821;

South Manatee — 941-755-3892.

You also can access the library via the internet at mymanatee.org/library.

Mary Lysaght is an assistant supervisor at the Rocky Bluff Library in Ellenton. Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday in the Bradenton Herald.

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