Chili – Something Cincinnati Doesn’t Suck At (Along With Racial Tension And Not Making The Playoffs)

26 September 2008


John sez: "I'm here because I once played a character named 'Chili Palmer.' Also, I heard something about The Chef's Prerogative cooking without a shirt on, and thought I'd check it out."

Much like barbecue, pizza, and places in the U.S. where I don’t have to worry about outstanding warrants, chili predilections are largely governed by American regional geography and asshole sheriffs.  Texas chili, for instance, eschews vegetables and beans in order to focus on beef and peppers.  The southwest, however, is less draconian in their recipes, and readily allows for both tomatoes and legumes.  San Francisco cares not what’s in your chili, so long as I’m making it with my shirt off (hi, John!).  Not only are the recipes as varied and sundry as the races against which I’m prejudiced, but so are the myriad toppings, sides, and secret ingredients which make chili so personal a dish.  I’ve had chili with a peanut butter sandwich on the side, I’ve had chili served over Fritos and topped with cheddar cheese, I’ve been served chili made with lamb, and I’ve even had sex with my friend Doug’s mom while she was re-heating a bowl of chili for me, which she had made the night before (sorry, Doug!).


"But, Mrs. Williams, what do you mean, 'I hope you brought the sausage?' I'm just here to see Doug. But, what do you mean, 'by 'sausage' I meant 'your penis' and 'I want to have sex with you before Doug gets home?' You're very confusing, Mrs. Williams."

And while “the best” style of chili is certainly up for debate, there’s one thing we can all agree on: the best style of chili is Cincinnati-style chili.  For those of you who may be used to traditional chilis with cubed meats, heavy on the peppers and spices, Cincinnati chili will be as foreign to you as good chili.  The best place, by far, to get good Cincinnati chili is at Skyline Chili, located not only in Ohio, but also in other neighboring Midwestern states you’ll never visit.  Some differences in Cincy chili you’ll be able to recognize right away: it utilizes ground meat instead of large chunks, its “sauce” is less viscous than its southern counterpart’s, and, lastly, it gets put on fucking everything.  Another difference lies in the secret ingredient (which isn’t secret anymore because everyone knows it): chocolate.  Now, I hate chocolate.  I hate it in cake form, bar form, kiss form, and Charlie and the Factory form.  I just don’t fucking like it, and I don’t understand people who speak about it in hushed, rapturous tones – those should be reserved for adulation of scotch (and maybe Wayne Newton.)  So you assholes can do me a favor and stop looking at me weird when I say I don’t want any of that birthday cake you brought in for the secretary – you’re the odd ones, not me.  NOT ME!!!!  In chili, however, chocolate doesn’t overpower, but instead plays nicely with its bolder counterparts.  Chocolate merely compliments and enhances other, better flavors.  In fact, chocolate thinks it heard of a similar chocolate/savory relationship from his Mexican co-worker, Mole, who chocolate thinks has probably been stealing office supplies. 

Direct from the Library of Congress

I got this straight from the U.S. Department of Maps and Stuff

Now living amongst the beautiful people, where I belong, I can no longer get a decent Cincinnati chili.  My only opportunity comes once a year, or so, when I go on my annual pilgrimage to my parents’ house, in a tradition they like to call the “Your Drinking Is Ruining This Family” Summit.  And, while this time is generally marked by secret scotch binging, intra-familial stabbings, and lots and lots of crying, being able to get Skyline chili makes it all worthwhile.  The beauty of Cincinnati chili is that you never really order a “bowl” of it.  Rather, you merely pick the conveyance on which you would like your chili served.  The two most popular choices are hot dogs and pasta, both of which come as either a 3-way (with chili and cheese) or a 5-way (with chili, cheese, onion, and beans), neither of which were easy to refrain from making a joke about in reference to the fact that 3-ways and 5-ways could also describe sex with three or five people, respectively.  Boobies and vaginas! (ah, that feels better.)


Ground chuck (or Tom, or Dave, or whatever hobo you happen to have laying around your basement)
Tomato sauce
Cider vinegar
Worcestershire sauce
Spices: ground peppercorns, allspice, cloves, bay leaf, salt, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and cumin
Unsweetened chocolate

Cook, While Watching the Bengals Lose:

Bring the water to a boil, and throw the meat in.  Reduce to a simmer, then, uh, I guess just throw in the rest of that shit as well, maybe?  Cook until it looks, smells, and tastes like Skyline chili.  If it looks, smells, or tastes like something else (or just bad, in general) please understand that this reflects on your poor cooking skills moreso than on my recipe, which is awesome.  If, however, after several hours of simmering, you end up with some beautiful, delicious chili, then: congratulations – I can’t believe that worked!  Boil some pasta and top it with a little bit of Cincy.  Make some hot dogs and introduce them to the Queen City.  Whatever you do, make sure to add several pounds of grated, iridescent orange cheddar cheese – now  you’re eating like a true Midwesterner.





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