Saturday, May 16, 2009

Love me some Queen City chili!

In honor of the "four-way" Cincinnati chili I made ce soir -- I didn't have any kidney beans, and that's why it was four-way chili -- please to enjoy this A Man's Gotta Eat post from January 2008:

I was 12-years-old the first time I went to Cincinnati. A kid who played on my baseball team that year was from Ohio, and he and his father were huge Reds fans.

One sunny summer day, my friend, his dad and I drove to Cincinnati to take in an under-the-lights Reds-Cardinals game. We stayed at a hotel near the stadium that night, and we started our journey back to Nashville at noon the following day.

Before leaving Cincinnati, however, my friend's dad insisted that we stop at Skyline Chili. Neither my mother or my father were big chili fans (I don't remember my mother ever making chili when I was growing up), and I'd sort of adopted their indifference to the stuff. I don't remember exactly what I ordered, but I know it wasn't chili.

I remember when my friend's dad's chili arrived. It did not resemble any chili I'd ever seen. First of all, it wasn't in a bowl, which was how I'd always seen chili served. And it wasn't just chili on the plate. It was spaghetti noodles and chili and cheese and beans and chopped onions. I was intrigued, to say the least.

My friend's dad asked if I'd like to try his chili. Since what he was eating looked more like a plate of my mother's spaghetti than any chili I'd ever encountered, I probably said, "Yes, please" (I was full o' manners when I was a young boy), and boy was I glad I did.

The first thing you notice about Cincinnati chili is its slightly sweet taste. That's 'cause it is made with cinnamon, cocoa and paprika (Texas-style chili it ain't). I know the sweet taste is what I enjoyed most about my first few bites of Cincinnati chili. I'm sure others feel the same way.

My two traveling companions and I made two more trips to Cincinnati that summer. We saw the Braves play during one of those trips; I don't remember who the Reds played during the other. What I do remember is this: I just begged my friend's dad to take us back to Skyline each time, which he did. I suspect he would've taken us there whether I'd lobbied for the trip or not.

Since those first three trips to Skyline during the summer of my 12th year, I've been a confirmed fan of Cincinnati chili. I've been to Cincinnati a couple-dozen times over the years for business and pleasure, and I've always - and I mean always - go to one of the myriad chili parlors that serve the fine citizens of the Queen City (Skyline, Gold Star, Empress, Dixie Chili, etc.).

Now, if you don't want to drive all the way to Cincinnati to try this unique American dish, you can drive to your nearest Kroger grocery store and get a package of Cincinnati Recipe Chili Mix. (Kroger is the only grocery store in which you're likely to find the stuff, which makes sense considering Kroger is headquartered in Cincinnati.) I've made Cincinnati chili from scratch, but it didn't taste as much like the real thing as the chili I've made with Cincinnati Recipe's mix.


Cincinnati Kid said...

not enough cheese, jango

Brian Stanley said...

I have never had Cincinnati with or without enough cheese, but now I'm intrigued. I just ordered ten packs of Skytime Chili mix on Amazon and you will hear from me if it is not as good as you say is.

Joltin' Django said...

not enough cheese, jango
That is the most shredded cheese I've ever seen in my life.

In Atlanta the "traded" pillows are all warm and fluffy.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I'm born and raised in Cinci area (now live in Denver) and Cinci chili is a must eat, as is the Montgomery Inn for ribs! My first experience with Cinci chili (Empress) was also as a youngster with my Dad just before the Reds games. I grew up during the Big Red Machine years - was baseball the greatest game then or what!

I make chili using the Skytime spice packets about once a month - kids, new wife, and all that have encountered this delicacy absolutely love it.

Happy Eating!