The Tale of Aunt Chilada’s
A Lady with a past
Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, shortly after the reluctant surrender of Geronimo. Arizona was still an untamed territory, and Aunt Chilada’s Banquet Room was built on the foundation of the only general store serving the laborers working the Rico Mercury Mine. The mining smelters were in full operation throughout the nearby mountain range and in what is now The Pointe at Squaw Peak Residential Community. The largest of these ore smelters has been preserved and stands near The Hole in the Wall River Ranch. The mines, quite unintentionally, also gave the area its name. After a long day deep in the mines, the men emerged appearing somewhat inebriated and dreamy-eyed from inhaling the mercury fumes. As they walked down the dusty road to the general store, people were heard to remark, “The men are back from The Dreamy Draw.”
Following the repeal of prohibition, Dave and Jesse Noble, the land’s owners at the time were granted the first liquor license issued by the State of Arizona. The store was later reopened as The Peak Steak House, getting its name not from the landmark mountain towering over the restaurant but from a uniquely placed and somewhat revealing window set in the ceiling of the bar (now the Tienda). Throughout the night, scantily-clad women would climb into the attic and perform a hootchy-kootchy dance while patrons sneaked a peek through the window. This unusual entertainment proved to be very popular as guests from as far away as The Camelback Inn and The Biltmore Hotel would ride over on horseback, just to enjoy a cool libation while keeping their “heads up”.
This infamous bar and restaurant found notoriety again as it began a new life as George’s Ole! George Cocherham was not only a captain in the Phoenix Fire Department but an extremely ambitious restaurateur. Using over 3,000 Santa Fe railroad ties, native stone from the area and a little help from his off-duty firefighter friends, he expanded the building to its present size. George made one other important purchase Arizona’s Original smoker from Gentleman Jim’s Barbeque at the corner of 16th and Oak Street and moved it to the Garden Patio where he not only smoked traditional meats and fowl but would also smoke game animals brought in by his customers. In fact, George claims to have prepared everything from quail and venison to javelina and even elephant. The same tradition exists today, with George’s Granddaughter working at the restaurant. Aunt Chilada’s still slow roasts a variety of delicious meats, chicken and vegetables over aged mesquite wood every day for your enjoyment.
In the early 80s, Bob Gosnell bought the restaurant, renamed it Aunt Chilada’s and made it a member of The Pointe’s growing family of restaurants. “The Hideaway”, as it affectionately became known, was a favorite with the locals.
Ken Nagel had been working at The Pointe since its inception, designing, implementing and overseeing the food and beverage operations. As the company continued to grow, Ken saw the food and beverage operations expand to become the largest in the state. However, Ken still had an itch that needed scratching. He dreamed of someday owning his own restaurant, a place where he could focus all his energy. That restaurant was Aunt Chilada’s, and in January of 1995 Ken realized his dream along with his partner Lee Midtun, a bean counter at The Pointe for over 20 years, they purchased the restaurant – lock, stock and chili relleno.
The Nagels—Ken, Candice and their four daughters along with a dedicated staff now greet and serve guests visiting this remarkable piece of Arizona history and continue the tradition of good food and good times served with warm Southwestern hospitality that has made Aunt Chilada’s popular for over 100 years.
The cascading chocolate fountain just might be the most exciting thing to happen to chocolate since the Mayans first discovered this “food of the gods” over 1400 years ago. It [...]
27 (Saturday) 10:00 am - 28 (Sunday) 11:00 am
7330 North Dreamy Draw Drive Phoenix, Arizona 85020
Bocce Indeed, Roman influence looms large over the history of Bocce. The most reliable sources agree that Bocce, as we know it today, was played between battles during Rome’s Punic Wars [...]
Indeed, Roman influence looms large over the history of Bocce. The most reliable sources agree that Bocce, as we know it today, was played between battles during Rome’s Punic Wars against Carthage, in 264 B.C. As the Roman Empire expanded throughout Europe, the Mideast, and Asia, the seeds of Bocce were sown and the sport’s popularity spread like wildfire.
Titus Plautus (254 – 184 B.C.) said, “Not every age is fit for childish sports.” Apparently Plautus never played Bocce. People from all walks of life played the game as Bocce is easily adapted to the old and the young, men, women, and children. Throughout the centuries innumerable variations of bocce have been played in streets, churches, castles, beaches, alleys, country greens, and front lawns.
Oh, the Debauchery!
As the game enjoyed rapid growth throughout Europe, being the sport of peasants and nobility alike, it began to threaten the health of nations. In 1319 Roman Emperor Charles IV outlawed the game to people of lesser nobility since he felt it interfered with military training. Edward III of England followed suit in 1361, and in 1511 King Henry VIII imposed a similar ban not only because it may have created a diversion from the military preparedness but he thought it unsavory and an activity that led to moral decay. Further, even the Catholic Church once condemned the sport, citing a “pernicious gambling influence”. Over time the bowl games of England became increasingly associated with taverns, drinking & gambling, and became unfashionable.
It’s hard to keep a good thing down. Any game that people find competitive and enjoyable will overcome attempts to prevent it. And Bocce is no exception.
What’s in a Name?
The name Bocce has its own muddled history. Some etymologists say the word bocce is derived from the Italian bacio, meaning kiss. (The idea is to kiss or snuggle, or otherwise get close to the object of your affection – the pallino or target ball). Still others say bocce is a direct descendant of the Latin word bottica, a vulgar term meaning boss.
And famous names throughout history are connected to a passion for playing, including; Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who spoke highly of the game and claimed playing Bocce was beneficial to one’s health; Emperor Augustus (31 B.C. – 14 A.D.) who played, perhaps, with coconuts the Romans brought back from Africa; English Admiral Sir Francis Drake, whom legend says was told an attack by the Spanish Armada was imminent. His response…? “First we finish the game, then we have time for the invincible armada”; and George Washington purportedly played bocce and built a court at his Mount Vernon estate in the 1780’s.
Sizing up the Court
As the game spread throughout the world, people’s interpretations of things like the “rules” and the “official” size of the court were as varied and diverse as the region in which Bocce was played. It’s generally agreed and accepted that the dimensions of a proper Bocce court today fall between 60’ and 84’ long by 10’ to 12’ wide. And, as it is with baseball parks, the attraction of each individual court is found in the variety and unique characteristics. The court at Aunt Chilada’s is 60‘ long and 10’ wide.
It’s also generally agreed that as long as one has a natural surface, the court’s dimensions can be marked and the pallino can be thrown! The playing surface at Aunt Chilada’s Bocce court is a mixture developed by one of the game’s masters - Tom McNutt - who concocted a number of recipes to come up with the ideal formula. The crushed oyster shell mix helps maintain an optimum playing surface as it allows water to percolate through and slowly re-level itself.
Kiss the Fanny
Pétanque (the French version of Bocce) is responsible for the tradition whereby losing teams who score no points are obliged to “kiss the fanny.” ALL players defeated by a shut-out have to kiss the fanny with the winning team serving as witnesses.
Legend has it that the tradition started in France’s Savoy region. Fanny (a common name in France) was a waitress at the Café de Grand-Lemps circa World War I. Fanny would allow players who lost with no points to their credit to kiss her on the cheek. One day it was the village mayor who had been “skunked” and came to collect his kiss. Reportedly there was bad blood between the two and, intending to humiliate the mayor, Fanny stepped up onto a chair, lifted her skirt, and offered him…her fanny! The mayor was up to the challenge and two loud kisses echoed through the café.
It was the beginning of a long-standing tradition and one that we dutifully support at Aunt Chilada’s. Our own “Fanny” awaits inside the bar, a Diego Rivera-inspired piece completed by an artist in Guanajuato, Mexico in January 2009.
The Mexican Connection
As Bocce’s historical emphasis is primarily rooted in European and Mediterranean lore, the tendency is to see the game’s origins and rich history as specific to those regions.
Half a world away, however, there’s evidence that a similar game was being played in Mexico! It’s believed that the Pre-Columbian people of Mesoamerica (an area generally known as Central America today) played a version of a ball game on long, narrow alleys for over 3,000 years.
While the game was played casually for simple recreation, including by children and perhaps even women, the game also had important ritual aspects, and formal matches would be held as ritual events, often featuring human sacrifice.
Today it’s not unusual to find a game of Bocce being played throughout the many resort towns of Mexico as enthusiasts find the beaches to be excellent playing surfaces.
Bocce has undergone many changes throughout history, evolving from a crude sport played with stones or coconuts, to the modern game with composite or metal balls. Playing surfaces are as different as the imaginations of the players – lawns, beaches, stone dust, clay, or crushed oyster shells.
What’s clear in the muddied waters of Bocce history is that versions of the game have been played by many different cultures and people and by many different sets of rules. (Aunt Chilada’s has our own set of Bocce Open Rules)
It should be noted that the oral traditions of Bocce are just as much an important part of the game. Throw out a pallino and become part of the long heritage of the game from great thinkers like Galileo and da Vinci, to rulers Augustus and Queen Elizabeth, to the noble Sir Francis Drake and America’s own George Washington. Enjoy the world’s oldest sport, a sport known to revive the body and mind and, next to soccer, the most popular game in the world.
(Tuesday) 7:30 pm
7330 North Dreamy Draw Drive Phoenix, Arizona 85020