In Cincinnati, Hungry For Victory And Chili

by Kevin Burton

   Here we go kids, going to have a daaaaaay to-day.

   Gonna do the full Cincinnati today. That’s right!

   The Bengals are in the playoffs, still in the playoffs, having survived the Raiders last week.  I’m busting out the quarantine wardrobe Cincinnati Bengals pajama bottoms for the occasion. Ordered them last year when the team was in last place, not daring to dream I’d wear them on a playoff Saturday. 

   Gonna drink my morning coffee from my Cincinnati Reds mug of course.  If somehow the Bengals lose I will go to You Tube and drink in the past baseball glories of the Big Red Machine to keep that Cincinnati vibe going.

  And, best of all, we’re making Cincinnati chili!  Bengals win or Bengals lose, come what may, tomorrow I will still have leftover Cincinnati chili, stone guaranteed.

   Talking double batch baby!

   It’s all good on the banks of the Ohio River. When I can’t go to the Queen City I can still get a taste of it for lunch.

   It’s entirely possible that many of you haven’t heard of Cincinnati chili for reasons of geography and because I haven’t talked about it as much as I have the Beatles and my cats.

   Yes, Cincinnati has its own chili. You can get it at Reds and Bengals games. Taste the sauce and you will know it’s different. But you’ll never guess why.

   It’s chocolate.  Yes, cocoa is one of the ingredients.  

   I turned to my fellow bloggers to explain what the excitement is all about. There were only a few posts.  I’ll give a shout out to the one whose product looked the best to me.
   Estelle Forrest is the writer of the Homemade On A Weeknight blog and self-published author of a book by the same name.  Her Cincinnati chili spread looks ready for gameday, though hers has more peppers than we will end up with.

   I don’t know where she is from but it’s not Cincinnati based on what she writes.

   “I had never even heard of Cincinnati Chili until I saw it in a food magazine (can’t recall which one). I jotted it down on a sticky note and forgot about it for a while,” Forrest writes.  “Then I found it again when I was clearing up my desk. And started my research. I learned quite a lot about this dish created by Macedonian immigrants. They added their Mediterranean spices to ground meat and tomatoes to create an amazingly delicious dish!”

   “When you read the ingredients you might want to run away – I mean cinnamon in chili might sound odd enough – but cocoa powder? You have to trust me on this one. The comingling of the flavors along with the Worcestershire and honey creates such a wonderful flavor profile,” Forrest writes

    “Usually when people talk about chili varieties the beans or no beans topic always comes up. I read a lot about it and it would appear that Cincinnati Chili is a strict NO on the beans.”

   Amen to that, beans would be a deal-breaker, no beans about it. The recipe she shares has 15 ingredients, none of which is beans.

   Cincinnati chili is most commonly served over pasta or hot dogs and topped with your favorite shredded cheese. Check it out, you’re going to thank me!

    As for the game, these AFC playoffs have fallen just right for the Bengals.  They play a road game at the top seed and are only 3.5-point underdogs. Meanwhile on the other side of the bracket the Bills and Chiefs play a Super Bowl-quality game in the quarterfinals.  Tennessee isn’t half as scary as those two.

   As for the chili, I didn’t check on local varieties for the others teams’ locations. If Tennessee does have a chili it’s probably made with possum, so you want to steer clear of that.  You want to go Cincinnati all the way.

   Ok, so here’s a thought. How about Cincinnati chili as a Super Bowl meal in three weeks?  The Bengals have been to two Super Bowls, unlike some Ohio teams that will remain nameless.  They did lose both games, to Joe Montana-led 49rers teams.  Maybe third time is a charm?

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