How To Eat Cincinnati Chili Like A Local

There are too many bases to cover for foreplay, so we'll dive right in. First, if you're going to order yourself a bowl of Cincinnati chili (Barack Obama did it, so why shouldn't you?), don't order alone. As Food and Wine writer Max Bonem once wrote of Cincinnati's famous Skyline Chili, "You can order just a bowl of chili at Skyline. People do it. There are probably people who do it. Someone did it at least once." If, however, you don't want to be a statistic, you'll order a bowl of Cincinnati chili over a hot dog, or on top of spaghetti, or at the very least heaped with mounds and mounds of garishly yellow but, of course, delicious cheese.

Second, don't forget the hot sauce and the oyster crackers, says The Cincinnati Region. Oyster crackers, in particular, are so all-important to the experience that when Skyline changed its recipe, it made the local news (via WLWT 5). How should you eat oyster crackers with your Cincinnati chili? It's a solid question that a Columbus, Ohio resident has the answer to. You should strive, urges The Webner House blog, to create an "oyster cracker blanket" over the grated cheese. (Do this after adding strips of hot sauce in a "checkerboard pattern" to the chili-topped-with-cheese.) Are you with us so far? Good. The next tip we have for you is the most important. 

The biggest mistake you can make when eating Cincinnati chili

If you order your Cincinnati chili on top of a hot dog (i.e., a Coney – and if you want it with cheese, a Cheese Coney), you'll eat it with your hands. (Duh.) But, on the other hand, if spaghetti's your thing (in which case you'll order a 2-Way, 3-Way, 4-Way, or 5-Way chili), you'll need a fork. Don't twirl your chili like any other spaghetti-based dish. To quote one Redditor, "That's the most stereotypical 'you must not be from around here; things you can do and everyone will look at you like you're a heathen (because you are)." 

Even The Cincinnati Region advises to "cut the pasta like a casserole." Doing so isn't just about etiquette, it's about the flavor profile you'll enjoy by the forkful. Says The Webner House, cutting your Cincinnati chili-dish vertically ensures that "every bite is a small yet perfectly proportioned combination of spaghetti, sauce, cheese, and a cracker or two."

Finally, while there's no wrong time to eat a bowl of Cincinnati chili, there may be a right time to do so. "It's especially great after a long night out," advises Food and Wine. And, can you honestly think of a more satisfying way to end your evening? Not if you're from Cincinnati you can't.