Robin Garr on Cincinnati Chili.


In my world, chili always has been an omnibus concept. There needs to be chili powder in it, but like goulash (paprika) or borscht (beets), there is no end to creative regional and personal variations springing from the basic concept.

I’d never experienced Cincinnati-style chili until I was in my late twenties, working in downtown Louisville within range of a long-departed Gold Star outlet. While everyone else argues about meat, beans, spaghetti and other nebulous orthodoxies, I merely opt for the Cincinnati version and am quite happy.

Previously, I shared my recipe for Vegetarian Cincinnati Chili, which is a monthly household favorite. Earlier in the week, Robin Garr wrote about this culinary art form at his Eat.Feed.Love.Live. blog. He links to a recipe I might have to try … with veggie ground beef substitute. That’s because as an omnivore, I inhabit a (muchly) vegetarian domicile; when I want Cincy chili with meat and cannot make it to Ohio, there’s room for an exception to my chain restaurant standards (it’s all about shift) and visit the Skyline outlet in front of Louisville’s Mid City Mall.

Cincinnati chili: No hating, please!

… From a food anthropology standpoint, it may help to recognize that this is just another strain of immigrant cuisine working its way into the American melting pot.