A ‘thank you’ tradition

Clark Gable supposedly ate it on the night he died. Kit Carson supposedly wished for it on his deathbed. Jesse James apparently refused to rob a bank in McKinnney because it was the home of his favourite. Spanish priests in the nineteenth century preached against its aphrodisiac nature. Eleanor Roosevelt was once refused the recipe for it, and for the last 22 years, American Randall Claywell has been cooking it up once a year for his annual thank you. Chilli.

It started the year his son was born – as a thank you.  Over the years, the tradition has moved with him wherever he has lived. It’s been going on a few years in Budapest but this was the first time I’d received an invitation. And what a lovely idea it is.

Some of us wait until Christmas to say our thank yous. Some of us use name days and birthdays as an excuse to show our gratitude. And some, like Mr Claywell, throw a party and invite the world and her mother. The invite reads Friends, colleagues, and those who make up a part of my life. This is my way of saying “I’m glad to know you” and/or “THANK YOU”. So come, have some chilli and say hello.

Now, chilli ain’t exactly top of my list of favourite foods. I’d never in a million years order it in a restaurant. I once took part in a chilli cook-off in Los Angeles but couldn’t bring myself to even cook it and instead entered the competition with my Mexican specialty ‘chicken sh*t’ instead. But I’d been invited and I wanted to see this phenomenon for myself.

That wonderful Hungarian writer, Karinthy Frigyes, is credited with defining the concept of six degrees of separation in his 1929 short story, Chains (Láncszemek). On Saturday, 1st October, at Angelika Café, everyone there was separated by just one link. Perhaps because they run the coffee shops he drinks in, or works with him, or met him at a wedding, or gets the same tram, or shops in the same ABC … It kicked off at 2pm and went on all afternoon into the early evening. Seems like everyone was having a good time when I left – and I caught up with some old friends who knew Randall, too … small world.

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