A Harmony of Flavors

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cincinnati Chili, Unlike any Other

Many long years ago I lived in Cincinnati, and was introduced to Cincinnati Chili. For any who have never had the pleasure, Cincinnati Chili is a thin consistency and with unusual flavors. And that's just the start. All over Cincy they serve what they call "Chili Spaghetti", and that is a take-off on the Cincinnati Chili "Two-Ways." Maybe this is getting confusing. Let me explain.

Cincinnati Chili is a thin consistency chili with little tomato in the sauce. The flavors are distinct, including such possible spices as cinnamon, allspice and chocolate among others. The chili may be served alone ("One-Way"), over spaghetti noodles ("Two-Way"), with shredded cheddar over top ("Three-Way"), with the addition of either kidney beans or chopped onion ("Four-Way"), or may be served with all of these things, making it Five-Way Chili.

Cincinnati Chili, Five-Ways
This chili is not one that everyone will like, but if you are up for the unusual, you might want to try out this Cincinnati special. Interestingly, I lived in Cincinnati for 2 years prior to gettting married for the first time and moving straight to Guatemala. In Guatemala, it is very common to have these kinds of flavors together in a savory dish. Mole, whether sweet ot savory, contains cinnamon and chocolate among other things. Recado over tamales also contains these flavors. I was being introduced to many more dishes that mixed together spices and flavors that previously had been reserved only for sweets. I was very young when I moved to Guatemala, but I went with an open mind and learned a lot about cooking and combinations that seemed unlikely but were wonderful when tasted.

Some years ago my current husband and I went back to Cincinnati for a family reunion. He had never been introduced to Cincinnati Chili before, but one of my brothers-in-law had actually worked at Skyline Chili, where Cincinnati Chili is served. He had to have my husband try it, and I was curious to taste it again after so many years. In the meantime, I have seen recipes for this chili, but my recipe combines the flavors as they seem right in my own mind. This may not be "authentic". In fact Skyline has the chili brought in already  made, so no one knows the secret of their ingredients. Still, I think my version tastes great, so I hope there are those out there who might be willing to try it out.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.