Felix In Hollywood

A Blog for the Smart Set

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Of Icons, Entrances and Chili.

In the scene above, two things are unmistakably clear:  1)  Entrances are more effective when they are exactly 8 minutes and 50 seconds in duaration and have thousands of actual (non CGI) humans looking on, (I have always imagined her going through a sort of stripped down version of this entrance every time she walks into her living room) and  2)  Taylor, as Cleopatra, appears so regal, serene and bemused because she just scarfed down a bowl of Chasen's chili before the shot.

The old Hollywood legend is that Elizabeth was so fond of the chili made from Dave Chasen's secret recipe that she was having it dry-ice-packed and shipped to her in Rome during the filming of "Cleopatra".  It is a legend that I no longer doubt.  A dear friend of mine was once employed at Taylor's house in the early '80s.  Recently we were talking about glorious Hollywood landmarks that no longer exist and I asked him if he had ever been to Chasen's.  "Yes, but only in the kitchen when I would go pick up chili for Elizabeth." was his reply

As this upcoming weekend is Super Bowl Sunday, there will be lots of chili pots simmering and with good reason.  It is a time honored traditional dish here in the US with as many different variations in ingredients and preparations as there are cooks to make them.  Even if you have no interest in Football (Go Saints!) and don't intend to watch the funny commercials game, there's no reason not to fire up the chili pot!  It's wintertime, and chili is comforting. 

So it's with that in mind that I am bringing to you, at great expense (google):

Dave Chasen's Chili Recipe

1 cup dry pinto beans


5 cups canned tomatoes

1 pound green bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 pounds onions, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 cup minced parsley

1/2 cup butter

2 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 pound ground lean pork

1/3 cup chili powder

2 tablespoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

Rinse beans and place in a bowl with enough water to cover by 2 inches. Soak overnight.
Pour beans and soaking water into a large kettle, cover and simmer until tender, 1 to 2 hours. Add tomatoes and simmer 5 minutes longer.
While beans are cooking, saute green peppers in oil in a large skillet 5 minutes. Add onions and cook and stir until tender. Add garlic and parsley.
In another skillet, melt butter. Add beef and pork and saute about 15 minutes. Add meat to onion mixture; stir in chili powder and simmer 10 minutes. Add meat mixture to beans and season with salt, pepper and cumin.
Simmer chili, covered, 1 hour. Remove cover and continue cooking 30 minutes, stirring now and then and adding water to keep it moistened if needed. Skim fat. Serve chili in deep bowls. Makes about 4 quarts.

Now before we leave the Chasen's topic entirely, if you heard a loud thud recently it was me fainting upon opening an email from my friend Judy.  It seems that she and her girlfriend are moving to a smaller place, and as a result had to sell one of their favorite possesions:  Chasen's booth no. 22; the Burt Lancaster banquette!  After entertaining offers, it has sold.


jason said...

I'd like to mount that booth on wheels and ride through the city eating chili myself!

And you know, somewhere (in an actual book, I'm sure), I'd read that very recipe...and the dry ice story. I'd buried the memory until now.

Love this scene by the way. Love Cleopatra, one of my all time faves.

normadesmond said...

i hope you were the one who made an entertaining offer- for the booth!!!

FelixInHollywood said...

Unfortunately, the booth is bigger than my living room!

Mike, Studio city said...

Chasen's is now a Whole Foods, I wonder if they sell good chili. I miss Chasen's

mrpeenee said...

Ribbon dancers ! I love good ribbon dancers.

MJ said...


I'd almost forgotten that you're that elusive species known as the Sports Fag.

*bitch slaps kabuki*

Donna Lethal said...

I have a whole "stoner munchies" connection to Cleopatra and now I know why!

Stephen said...

I met Elizabeth Taylor in 1974 at the 50th Anniversary of MGM Ball at the Beverly Wilshire. She asked about me, & I told her I was studying theatre at Loyola Marymount. She said that she studied at MGM-that was her school, that she had academic studies & voice & dance classes. Ms. Taylor said- " I always wished that I had a better speaking voice. It had an affect on the roles I was offered. I wanted to speak like Greer Garson".

True story.

FelixInHollywood said...

Ah, so she knew it then. I always wondered.

I've always thought that she was beautiful (of course) but more so acting is, depending on the movie, any where from 'quite competent' to really astounding. The only drawback for me has always been that voice.