comfort food

Today I had the entire day off!

Why, you ask? Our professors have multiple teaching gigs outside of RSAP, so they cannot possibly make it to the 12th arrondisement everyday.  As a compromise, they give students Tuesdays off for the first half of the semester (Thursdays for the second half) and make us go to school on alternating Saturdays and Sundays. This week is a little special, though, as we have Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday off. Hooray!

Seth and I spent our day picking up where we left off on our studio assignment. As we zig-zagged east and west of the Meridian in the cold and rain, we noticed that our line informally divides the suburbs by housing type. Dense, project-style developments seemed more prevalent in the west, while single family houses seemed dominant in the east. The farther we walked, the more athletic fields, parks, and cemeteries we began to see. We even spotted a mostly Chinese neighborhood. (Its cafe dwellers seemed to be ditching work to bet on horses.)

After a long day of documenting the southern suburbs of Paris, Seth and I were cold, cranky, and hungry. So off we went to our local grocery store (only half a block away—How convenient is that?) for some meat and spices. We craved a big pot of hearty, body- and soul-warming chili. I had never made beef chili before (only tofu chili, hominy chili, and white bean chicken chili), so I wasn’t sure if it was going to be edible. With a little bit of tweaking, it turned out to be surprisingly delicious! The recipe is posted below in case any of you dear readers (Mom!) wants to try it.

Beef Chili heavily modified from Everyday Food


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 very small French onions, chopped (For some reason, our grocery store did not have regular onions in stock today. French onions, when peeled, are slippery little suckers!)
  • 4 very large garlic cloves, chopped
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I like my chili pretty spicy. Use as much as you think you can handle.)
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 pound ground beef, 1/2 pound filet (I like to have several different textures in my chili.)
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) kidney beans in juice (I know you’re always supposed to drain and rinse canned beans, but I think they taste better with their juices. So there.)
  • 1/2 – 1 cube chicken bouillon (I would have preferred to use vegetable, but so far I have not been able to find it in Paris.)
  • lots of grated Emmental (It is a hard cow’s milk cheese similar to American Swiss.)
  • a traditional French baguette


  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add tomato paste, chili powder, cocoa powder, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring, until mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beef, and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, beans, and bouillon. Bring to a boil over high; reduce to a simmer, and cook (covered) until the chili is slightly thickened, 30+ minutes. Serve with lots of Emmental.
  4. Eat chili. Sop up the leftover liquid with a hefty chunk of baguette.

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