Of all the theories about the ori gins of chili, my favorite comes from George Herter, whom old-timers might remember as the bombastic voice of the mail-order gear catalog of the same name in the '50s and '60s. Herter wrote a slew of outdoor books--on fly tying, taxidermy, professional guiding, even dieting--but his classic volume, self-published in 1960, was Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices. Herter overstuffed Bull Cook with all manner of deliciously crackpot theories and declarations, including his history of chili. The dish, he decreed, was invented by Saint Mary of Agreda, a 17th-century Spanish nun said to have appeared countless times, via teleportation, in the American Southwest. During one visit, according to Herter, she bestowed a recipe upon the Native American tribes that called for venison, chile pepper pulp, tomatoes, and other ingredients to be stewed together. Thus, via providence, was chili born.