Filament Friday 06/27/2014

The best man was in town this week and we took the opportunity to meet up for lunch at Ben’s Chili Bowl, which has literally been on my to-do list for years. For those who don’t know, Ben’s is an iconic Washington D.C. landmark and eatery, specializing in hot dogs and, well, chili. Many will tell you it’s the greatest chili ever.

It's hard to miss.

It’s hard to miss.

As someone who makes damn good chili, I say those people are wrong. Don’t get it twisted – the food at Ben’s Chili Bowl is delicious. But, if you’re expecting competition-level chili, you’ll probably leave a little disappointed. The flavor is very good, but nothing extraordinary, while the appearance and texture is somewhat reminiscent of Hormel.

It, uh, tastes better than it looks.

It, uh, tastes better than it looks.

In fact, that’s what I’d call it, gourmet Hormel. With some cheese and condiments you can eat a bowl of it and be satisfied, but I can’t imagine rushing home to figure out the recipe.

So why is Ben’s so iconic and why do I still say it’s delicious? Well, in my opinion, the hidden secret of Ben’s is that you don’t go there for the chili – you go there for the chili dogs. I had the Ben’s Original (Bill Cosby’s favorite), which is a quarter pound beef/pork smoked sausage topped with spicy mustard, onions and the most absolutely perfect chili-dog chili ever. The sausage was cooked to perfection, with a little char on the skin and bursting with juices. Bite into it and you get a world of flavors and sensations, with the bite and crisp of the onions contrasting with the moist steamed bun and the meaty chili bringing it all together. In my forty years on this earth, it was the best dog I’ve ever encountered.

Not pictured: the food coma that followed.

Not pictured: the food coma that followed.

So there you go, Ben’s Chili Bowl makes the best bad chili around. In a world of haute cuisine served out of food trucks and a foodie in every kitchen, Ben’s is making the chili of the people: simple, delicious and crying out to be put on top of something. Next time I’m getting the chili cheese fries.


  • The NBA draft was last night and the Wizards sat out entirely, selling their 2nd round pick to the Lakers. Most were not thrilled and, to be honest, I’m a little perplexed by it myself. I’m sure they’ll spend the money on the roster, but, as mentioned in this article, why not trade it for a future 2nd rounder (I’d take the Lakers 2nd rounder next year, considering that it will probably be an early 2nd rounder).
  • TAI channels Wu-Tang Clan as it explores why this move is a harrowing reminder of the previous ownership regime.
  • Ever feel like getting buff like an old-timey strongman?
  • Or maybe you just want to get buff like Anthony Rizzo. It’s an Insider-only link, but ESPN has a great article exploring the idea that Rizzo is not just a budding superstar, but, right now, might be the best first baseman in baseball.
  • If you don’t have an ESPN Insider account, head over to Bleacher Nation to get Brett’s informed thoughts on the article, plus some other bullets.
  • Steve Gleason wants to end ALS once and for all. I’ll be rooting for him all the way and doing anything I can to contribute to his cause.
  • I haven’t watched Game of Thrones since I’ve been reading the books since (right) before the show premiered, but I’ve heard the sex accuracy and attention to boobs detail is amazing. And I can see why after reading this interview with David Peterson, who invented Dothraki and other languages for the show. Afterwards you can print out this handy phrasebook for your next visit to your mom’s basement Westeros.
  • Speaking of ASOIAF, a redditor recreated the entire history of Westeros in this series of maps.
  • As long as you’re on io9.com, these videos of a guy with an owl in his living room are pretty hilarious.
  • A good read and call to action from Bill Nye to step up the search for life in our solar system, specifically Europa.
  • I may have linked to this before, but just in case, If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel will put you in your (tiny, tiny) place.
  • Not only are you small and insignificant, it turns out you’re old, too. How old? Find out.
  • Interesting words here from a guy who spent a year backpacking and then re-entered the Monday-Friday, 9-5 workforce. I agree with most of what he writes, except that the 40 hour work week was somehow designed and implemented to “keep… people in this same dissatisfied state where the answer to every problem is to buy something”. It’s a little too conspiracy theory-ish for my tastes. He writes that we’re forced to work during the day in order to constrain our free time to nights and weekends. Don’t you think it’s much more likely that it’s a natural extension of the agrarian lifestyle where you work, you know, when it’s light out? I think our work week, like, most things, is just evolved through the passage of time.
  • Play drums on your keyboard. You’re welcome.
  • Or, if music isn’t your thing, but you desperately need something to procrastinate with, GeoGuesser will drop you in the middle of nowhere and you have to figure out where.
  • Emily Carroll makes some of the spookiest, entrancing web comics you’ll come across and her new one, The Hole the Fox Did Make, is one of her best. Curl up under the covers with a flashlight for proper enjoyment of this one.
  • In honor of the best man being in town, how about a little Phunk Junkeez for the Song of the Week.
Dylan Steele

About Dylan Steele

A Louisiana native, Dylan Steele now lives in Halethorpe, Maryland. A web developer by day, he is also an occasional musician, frequent dog walker and sometimes hoopster. And now he blogs, too.
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