On a Skyline

If you are in the Blue Ridge Mountains, travel Skyline Drive.

If you are in Brooklyn, marvel at Manhattan’s skyline.

If you are at a scenic mountain range overlook, enjoy the stunning peaks encroaching into the skyline.

If you are in Cincinnati, enjoy eating our local cuisine that we locals call Skyline.

In Cincinnati, Skyline is a chili. It’s not soup or a stew. It’s not in the style from Texas or even the rest of the country. Actually, as this past post on chili shows, it is very different from the normal mindset of what chili is or should be. Then again, it’s so Cincinnati – thus one of the great examples of specialized, local cuisine in the United States.

Cincinnati serves chili as a topping for – of all things – spaghetti! Whenever I take a visitor on their first trip to this culinary institution, I ask them these basic questions: Do you like spaghetti? Do you like shredded cheddar cheese? Do you like raw onions? Do you like red kidney beans? Based on their answers, I can tell them how to order the right way without looking at the menu.

  • 3-way: Spaghetti, chili, cheese
  • 4- way: Spaghetti, chili, cheese, onions
  • 4-way bean (my fav): Spaghetti, chili, cheese, beans
  • 5-way: Spaghetti, chili, cheese, onions, and beans

Tabasco Sauce is available at the table for those desiring to add a touch of heat.

Yet – Cincinnatians have other ways of ordering their locate favorite after identifying “the way.”

  • Wet – extra liquid
  • Dry – liquid drained
  • Semi wet or dry – have way
  • Extra something (beans, onions, or cheese)
  • Inverted – Served upside down than the normal way, (thus cheese is on the bottom)
  • Dieters can get it without the cheese

Skyline Chili is not the only chili restaurant in the city, but it is the most popular and my preference. When President Obama came to town in July, he visited Skyline – and even ordered the correct way (and my fav)” 4-Way Bean. Gotta love the coneys, too! Enjoy the short commercials.

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And this one that includes another Cincinnati tradition

On Chili

Is chili a stew or a soup? Does chili contain chilies? Does chili that goes on a chili dog differ from chili that goes in a bowl? Can you serve chili on a plate?

In much of America (and generally speaking), chili is a stew with ground beef and beans with a varying degree of spices.

Image from Food Network and to this recipe

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Nah-baby-nah in Texas because chili has a spicy broth, and chunks or sliced bits of beef, but no beans.

Image from Food Network and to this recipe

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Then again, some substitute chicken for beef, plus switch from red beans to white.

Image from Food Network and to this recipe

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Others proclaim a chili without meat, so bring on the vegetarian chili.

Image from Food Network and to this recipe

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Other variations include using sausage, turkey, pork, lamb, and include this wonderful rendition from Argentina (a past post).

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By visiting us in Cincinnati, chili takes on an entirely different meaning … and on a plate.

Image property of Skyline Chili

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Come on St. Patrick’s Day, it’s taken to another level.

Image property of Skyline Chili