Let’s talk Cincinnati for a minute.
I had the pleasure of briefly visiting there once. One of my best friends from law school was from Cincinnati, and as tends to be the case when you’re living about 1,000 miles from home for the first time in your life, she talked about Cincy in general and chili in particular. A lot. (I definitely don’t blame her…I remember talking my fair share about Buffalo wings!)
We were in law school in Florida, and when she found out there was a Skyline Chili location what she considered to be “nearby”, she drove us there to experience the magic that is Cincinnati chili, even though “nearby” meant a one-hour drive each way. She was a fanatic like that, and for good reason. We made the drive, ate our chili, and full and happy, she said with a sigh, It’s even better in Cincinnati. And because I know how “Buffalo” wings taste outside of Buffalo, I didn’t doubt her for a moment. A while after that, I visited her in Cincinnati and got to experience for myself what she had been talking about.
There are many foods that vary by region across the U.S., but chili is one of those things that not only differs quite a bit, but people feel very strongly about. (Just ask any Texan about chili and you’ll see what I mean!) Chili in Cincinnati is unlike any other chili.
It starts with a complex, rich-flavored, warmly-spiced meat sauce that has a touch of chocolate added, usually in the form of unsweetened cocoa powder. Then that incredible sauce is served one of the following “ways”: two-way (chili over spaghetti noodles); three-way (chili over spaghetti noodles topped with shredded cheese); four-way (chili over spaghetti noodles topped with shredded cheese and diced onion); five-way (chili over spaghetti noodles topped with shredded cheese, diced onion, and kidney beans). Hot sauce and oyster crackers are served alongside; although it might sound strange, oyster crackers add the perfect bit of salty crunch to the dish.
This chili something I recommend trying at least once – but if you do, be warned that you may very well be hooked.