The official dish of Texas coming to the senior center near you

The 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair, included the San Antonio Chili Stand, giving many Americans their first taste of chili. It became the official dish of Texas in 1977.

When I was traveling to 26 states, taking notes on specific classrooms for a report that became a book, I was amazed and delighted by all the chili in Cincinnati. It was featured here, there and everywhere. And here, there and everywhere, it was delicious.

Then I went to San Antonio and discovered that chili ingredients can be very regional. I was astonished by chili mole.

Don’t feel bad that you’ve missed the inaugural Cincinnati Chili Week, organized “to celebrate the city’s food staple,” held Feb. 24-25. On March 25, chili is on the menu at the Charlotte Senior Center.

On March 25, 1945, Sylvester made his first appearance in a televised cartoon, produced by Warner Brothers Merrie Melodies. Sylvester’s trademark expression was “Suffering succotash!”

Since succotash isn’t on upcoming Monday Munch menus, I will refrain from giving the website where one can watch (and hear) Sylvester saying this for 10 hours.

For me, the important connection with Merrie Melodies was the classical music. As a kid, I watched the Saturday afternoon double features and then sat through the cartoons again just to listen to the music. See Mental Floss for samples of the great music those cartoons featured here.

Look for another American staple, mac and cheese, on April 1. I haven’t asked the cooks for their recipe, but we can rest assured that they won’t use Van Leeuwen’s recipe for mac and cheese ice cream, which dumps two packages of the Kraft orange powder into a bowl of heavy cream, milk, sugar, corn syrup and egg yolks, freezes the result and scoops it into cones.

“Cooking: A Dictionary for Those Who Have to Cook, Love to Cook or Refuse to Cook” by Henry Beard and Roy McKie notes that for those who think the revolution in food tastes has made this classic dish seem humble, the answer is to rename it: maccheroni con formaggio velveeta di Amerigo Vespucci.

On April 1, while adults enjoy their mac and cheese, children can go to the Little Free Library for Kids and look for “On Market Street,” a prize-winning book by Arnold and Anita Lobel, published April 1, 1981. Starting with apples, books, clocks and doughnuts, this book offers delightful shopping from A to Z. Thanks to a generous donation from the board of directors at the Charlotte Senior Center, children can find many great titles in this book spot outside the Grange at 2858 Spear Street.

On April 27, the National Cornbread Festival will be held in South Pittsburg, Tenn. It features Cornbread Alley, where in past years you could eat sweet potato and bacon cornbread balls, rattlesnake candy cornbread, deep-fried banana cornbread puffs and lots more.

A cornbread traditionalist, this doesn’t impel me to rush to buy a ticket to Tennessee.

Rick Bragg, whose “The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table,” is a wonderful read, notes that his momma had a number of strong opinions about cornbread. Her Depression-era recipe included both yellow and white cornmeal, water, some butter or lard and one tablespoon of mayonnaise.

She said, “If you do not own a cast-iron skillet, shame on you; go get one.”

Margaret Renkl shared this injunction in the New York Times: “If you are making cornbread in anything other than a cast-iron skillet, stop right now.”

Bragg’s momma’s strongest injunction: “Don’t never, ever put sugar in cornbread. It will ruin it, and you will have to throw it out.”

My mother had the same view, and her strongest criticism of her mother was, “She puts sugar in her cornbread.”

Ever going for variety, The New York Times has 1,565 entries for cornbread, starting with coconut cornbread, followed by cornbread madeleines with jalapeno, apple pecan cornbread, pumpkin maple cornbread and so on. Their cornbread cake recipe directs readers to put a dollop of maple ice cream on top.

King Arthur Baking has a quarter of a cup sugar in their cornbread recipe (

In “Best Food Writing 2014,” Irvin Lin wrote an April Fool’s Day recipe, “How to Boil Water.” His recipe is “gluten-free, grain-free, paleo-friendly, meatless Monday friendly, cane sugar-free, soy-free, peanut and nut tree-free, egg-free, dairy and casein-free, vegan, vegetarian, local and organic.”

His recipe begins, “Find the perfectly sized pot. … Locate the sink.”

Lin notes, “I totally LOVE it when I get comments telling me how the recipe doesn’t work … especially when the reader who tried it substituted different ingredients.”