Press enter after choosing selection

The Chili Queens

The Chili Queens image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

When the northem tourist nsed to Btrike the town, the first things the pafcriotic citizen who was doing the honors would proudly steer hini up against would be the Álamo plaza chili stand, with its attendant diyinity, the far fanied chili queen. "Kow, sir, you've seen the historie Alamo, the old cathedral and the niisBions and got a whiff of our ozone, ' ' the citizen would remark with righteous pride, "and tonight you must come and eat a Jlexican supper and see the chili queens. The chili queens are one of our most noted attractions - the beautiful, dark eyed señoritas, you know. " The tourist generally knew. This was in the late eighties, the palmy days of the , chili queens, when their f ame had spread to the larger northern cities. Some very musical verse about theni had appeared in the magazines, and in the newspaper sketches they were idealized as stunning creatures, with the rich, brown skins of the tropics and the languorous graee and bewitehing black eyes of Spanish rlcnnas. When che e: ázen and the tourist stroll up to the f.ay looking chili stand with its big red, green and ycllow lanterns and its scintillating pyramids of cheap but gorgeous glassware, she promptly shuts up the sporty young man who is banöymg slang with her or quits haggling with the chili gorged bootblack over change. She hastily reaiTanges the flowers in her hair and the big bouquet at lier bosom and beams on the new arrivals with sparkliug eyes. The citizen addresses her with an easy familiarity. "Helio, Chiquita! How's tricks?" "Helio, señor. Tricks are bueno. How is my amigo, the senor?" They all used the Spanish dialect wheu they had special customers, despite the fact that other tongues came easier to some of them by nature. There were six reigning queens on the plaza in 1888, and one of them was of German descent and another was born in the island where the sod is highly green and there are no snakes. The other f our, however, were señoritas of the genuine Mexican variety. Chiquita's eyea sparkle with their most brilliant luster, and, with a quick succession of flashing smiles, she uses her red lips and white teeth to good advantage on the tourist while she engages in badinage with the citizen. "You're' looking prettier than ever tonight, Chiquita. I'm glad of it, because we want to make a good iinpression on my f riend here. He'sfrom away up north, you know, and he's heard of yon bef ore. ' ' Then Chiquita uses her tinkling laugh and slaps the citizen gently on the cheek. "So sorry, but I have not a single nickel to give you, But take this flower tnstead." She transfers a big rose from her corsage to the citizen's buttonhole. The tourist is beginning to want his share of the fun. "Yes, I heard of you up there, and that's one reason I canie down here - to see you, you kuow. " "Oh, my! You must have a flower too." Her hands linger lightly on his coat as she carefully pins a spray of honeysuckle on, and the tourist begins to believe that he must have come down here for this. He is enjoying himself very much. "Well, let's begin on our chili peppers, " suggests the citizen. "You say you never ate one before? We had better take a little of everything, then, so you can say you 'did' San Antonio right. Bring us the whole bill of fare, Chiquita. " The queen turns sharply to the slimy looking old Mexican who has charge of the steaming pots and kettles in the rear and rattles off this with a celerity which seems to astonish the tourist: "Jesús, andarle! Dos platas de chili con carne, y dos tamales con chili gravy, de enchilades tortillas, y dos tazas de cafe. " The fiercely burning chili con carne agonizes the tourist and he chokes on the enchilades, but he manages to struggle through the tamales by drinking a great deal oí' water. Meaiiwhile, the chili queen sits opposite hini iu a languishing attitude and keeps up her tinkling laugh. When it comes time to go, he insists on paying the bill, despite the protests of the citizen, and tenders a $5 bill. Chiquita seems to have trouble in couuting out the change and a thought strikes the tourist. "Say, Chiquita, "he says tentatively "you needn't mind that if" - "You mean yep. want to make me a present?' ' As that is what he means, she tucks the bill in her bosom, and gives the tourist a fond look: She takes another rose from her hair and pins it on his coat and squeezes his hand in biddiug hini goodby. Then, when her customers are gone, she goes and sits down in front of one of the steaming kettles, with a lap full of tortillas, which she uses to scoop up large mouthfuls of chili. Chiquita was a fair type of all the chili queens. They were not the idyllic creatures of popular conception that they appeared to be when on dress parade, but most of thern were really comely and they had the charm at least of novel ty. The glory of the chili queens waned and flickered away with great suddeuness, and they themselves drifted away from the high tide of fame aud fortune in a like mauner.


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News