Saturday, August 4, 2007


Guinness World Records' Editor-in-Chief starts his weeklong tour of Mexico by shedding a tear at the unveiling of a rather large pot of spicy soup...

The pretty Mexican city of Durango, in the state of the same name, may not sound all that familiar to you, but movie fans would recognize, on the outskirts of town, the flimsy fake-fronted movie sets shot to pieces by the likes of John Wayne in many a western. This week, however, Durango has made its mark on world culture by creating a very real - and very large - bowl of soup... indeed, the largest bowl of soup in the world!

So, why did tears stream down my face when contemplating this mammoth record attempt? Was it the emotional show of support from the thousands of people who turned out to celebrate this super-sized soup? Was it the honour of being treated like a movie star myself by the kind, generous people of this sleepy spot in the desert? Was it the joy of seeing this project - months in the planning - finally reach completion?

Or was it the 530 kg (half a ton) of onions being chopped beside me?

Or did I accidentally rub my eyes while weighing the 182 kg (400 lb) of dried pasado chillies?

Or was the baking noon-day sun simpy burning my retinas out?

Or was I mourning the loss of the 15 or so cows that contributed their meat to the recipe?

Whichever the case, I certainly felt the emotional impact this record had on the city of Durango. At first, it sounds like a simple exercise: make a bowl of soup to beat the current record - a 5,045-litre (1,332-gallon) goulash from Romania. But contemplating just the cooking vessel is a task in itself - where does one find a cooking pot and stove sufficiently large to house enough soup to fill around 70 bath tubs? Let alone the problem of finding the ingredients for the chosen recipe, a chilli-beef soup called caldillo...

The project pulled together the resources of the entire region. A month was spent planning and building the bowl - a UFO-like steel contraption that served as both container and gas cooker; local farmers provided the produce; restaurants put aside their competitive grudges and offered up their chefs; countless volunteers acted as security, servers and cleaners; and local schools put on a day-long variety show.

In the end, everyone pulled it off and created one enormous caldillo measuring 5,350 litres (1,413 gallons). The Municipal President Jorge Herrera Delgado joined me in taking the first sip - after the thumbs-up from the local health authority advisor on-hand to oversee proceedings, of course - and received the official Guinness World Records certificate in front of a queue of thousands desperate to sample the world-beating dish.

More than just a bowl of soup, this project showed to the world that the people of Durango could pull together to achieve anything, said President Delgado. And he has his mind set on a few more Guinness World Records... Watch this space!

17 July 2007
Craig Glenday

Special thanks to Alejandro and Pablito for their friendship and assistance

If you like your soup spicy, this Durango speciality is a must... although take care with those chillies - I now understand why John Wayne walked so funny when heading off into that sunset! If you fancy trying your hand at a traditional Caldillo Durangueno, and you want to set a record, here's what you'll have to beat:

* 182kg dried pasado chillies, soaked over night in five times the volume of water
* 100 litres (26 gallons) vegetable oil
* 1,926 kg (2.12 tons) lean beef steak, cubed
* 36 kg (80 lb) garlic, chopped
* 530 kg (1,168 lb) onions, diced
* 27 kg (60 lb) spice mix
* 16.7 kg (36 lb) ground pepper
* 53 kg (116 lb) salt
* enough water to create the desired consistency (around 3,000 litres; 800 gallons)

1. Soak the dried chillies for 24 hours; when rehydrated and up to four times their original size, macerate by hand, picking out the stalks as you go.
2. Heat the oil in the cooking pot.
3. When the oil is hot, add the cubed meat and stir regularly until evenly browned.
4. Add the remaining ingredients except the water and stir continuously until all the elements are completely incorporated. Cook for a good hour or so.
5. Add the water, slowly, to prevent the meat sticking, and to achieve the desired consistency. Serve with a cold beer!

Source: guinnessworldrecords

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