Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Go Reds! Cincinnati Chili and Beer

In my nearly three years living in Cincinnati, I’ve made fun of the Reds, the local baseball team. I’ve talked about how easy it is to get to a game and laughed at the locals who skip work for Opening Day and then give up on their beloved team before the All Star Break. But now, the Reds are in the playoffs. For the first time in memory.

This afternoon’s game didn’t look good, but I have hope in the Redlegs to at least pull out a win or two. They’re playing the Phillies, who have made it to the playoffs with their core group of players a lot recently and even won the World Series in 2008. I even said that we should cheer for the Reds now because we’ll probably have a chance to cheer for the Phillies later. I think someone phrased it best saying, “The Reds played like the Reds.”

I mention all this because it’s a coincidence that these two teams are playing each other; I lived in Philadelphia for five years and that’s Alex’s hometown, where we met. Plus, I work out of a Philadelphia office, so there’s no Reds love with my coworkers. But I am hopping on the Reds bandwagon, and I think they can do better than they did tonight!

So, in support of the Reds, I made a Cincinnati themed dinner. Cincinnati seems a little behind the times sometimes, but the interesting consequence of that is how many local oddities there are here. People aren’t advocating progress or globalization. So instead, we have old traditions and things done the Cincinnati way.


One big-deal thing here is Cincinnati chili, which is served over spaghetti and is notoriously sweet. I made my own, adapting this recipe from Allrecipes that got great reviews. This chili includes chocolate, allspice, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, and chili powder. From what I’ve heard, Cincinnati chili came about when Greek immigrants served a traditional Greek stew and rebranded it as a local food. I know the need to rebrand is true; I have a friends whose Greek grandparents had a successful local restaurant by never telling anyone they were Greek.

I made a few changes. Of course I substituted the ground beef (I used tvp) and I also put some pinto beans in the mix, which normally isn’t done. Cincinnati chili starts as a 3-way (spaghetti, chili, and cheese) and you can make it a 4-way by adding beans or raw onions, and it’s a 5-way when you add both. So mine doesn’t fit any “way” – do you think that’s why the Reds lost?


We drank Little Kings Cream Ale, a local beer that comes in 7-ounce bottles. According to their website, this beer has been delighting the masses since 1958.

The Redlegs play again on Friday. My ’Nati Night didn’t help the Redlegs win, but maybe the can get one on their own. What do you think, are you superstitious?


  1. chili on spaghetti?! that sounds amazing! especially with how cold its been lately, hot chili sounds so good!

  2. I felt I had to comment here - I've been living here long enough (fifteen years, actually) that it's starting to feel like home, but I just... can't get past the idea of chili on spaghetti. Never had it.

    And, also, the "behind the times" factor you mentioned was definitely part of the appeal of my moving here. I still hear old-timers who say "please" instead of "pardon," or even "squares" instead of "blocks," and it feels... oddly unique.

    Anyway, I've had fun reading. Keep posting!

  3. The DC Area has a chain of chili parlors, Hard Times Cafe, so chili on spaghetti is well known here. Thanks for another good meal idea.

  4. Your chili spaghetti looks yummy. I would put chili on spaghetti in a heartbeat! I need to find some different beers to try. I don't drink it much, but when I do, it's always Corona with lime in it.
    BTW...the Phillies are going to win! :o)

  5. Awesome! I've been meaning to make a veganized version of Cincinatti chili for ages now--I love yours! Sprinkle some daiya on and it'd be perfect!