Where there's chili, there's hope
In case you haven’t caught the fever yourself, here are a couple links that prove this city is freaking out about Cinner's (which officially opens tomorrow but is rumored to open tonight.) Actually, the city’s been freaking about it for a while now. And I’ll admit that I, too, have been waiting for this place to open. But I have an excuse, having been born and raised in that sweet, almost-Southern city of Cincinnati.
To me, the fervor is encouraging. It’s as if maybe, just maybe, the city that reared me is finally catching a break. Maybe I won’t have to defend it anymore against people who think the city is all race riots and Hustler stores.
Maybe, but not likely. In my experience, Cincinnati’s chili is its biggest target. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to defend the stuff to people who ignorantly say things like “You put chili on spaghetti*? That’s disgusting.” It gets my face red just thinking about it.
So all I can hope is that Cinner's owner Tony Plum gets it right. He seems to be on the right track, having garnered a recipe for chili that he claims is a descendant of the original 1922 Empress Chili recipe. (Empress was one of the first to make Cincinnati-style chili, but it's no longer around. Now the best stuff is at Camp Washington and Skyline.) But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous about Cinners' menu. Plum is mixing the chili with cream cheese and calling it Cinner’s Dip, and he’s selling something called a Chili Muff. A Chili Muff? It sounds equal parts dirty and insane. And if it doesn't taste good...well, that's the last thing Cincinnati needs.
*For those of you who aren’t familiar with Cincinnati chili, it goes like this: The chili itself is more like a spiced, beanless meat sauce, and it is spooned over spaghetti and topped with shredded cheddar cheese. That’s a 3-Way. Add raw onions or kidney beans and you’ve got a 4-Way; add both and it’s a 5-Way. Add anything else and you’re either not in Cincinnati or you’re about to get your ass kicked.