Day 196

Cincinnati Chili

After I drew this I realized it looked like a hot dog roll filled with red pubic hair. Or something even less appropriate. But I just didn’t have the energy to redraw it. I’ve been cleaning all day for my oldest daughter’s ginormous sleepover tomorrow. Although, why bother? I’m sure the giggle circus will destroy the joint about 10 minutes after rolling into town. On top of that our guinea pig had to be rushed to the vet’s today after a two-day hunger strike that left him looking like he’d decided that living in a cage with screechy girls yammering at him just wasn’t worth the trouble anymore. After an infusion of fluids he’s starting to come back around to his old piggy self. Although syringing guava juice into an extra large rodent’s fanged mouth isn’t an activity I ever thought I’d participate in.

Anyway, about that food. That’s a rather long story in itself. You see, we have a regional delicacy called the “michigan.” And, no, I don’t live anywhere near that fine state. I’m in northern-northern New York. Just a boat ride from Vermont and an exchange of documents away from Canada. But let’s put aside the issue of the misleading name. A michigan is a hot dog with a spicy hamburger-based sauce on top. You might think what I’m describing is a chili dog. You would be wrong. Never any beans or cheese. And, really, a taste all its own.

I’ve spent about a month researching the michigan for an article in Adirondack Life, the regional magazine I work for. (Yes, I’ve questioned the point of my existence while writing such groundbreaking stories.) I wish I could say you could read it online, as that would make this post much simpler. But you can’t. Won’t even hit newsstands for another few weeks. So here’s the short version: our beloved michigan sauce — and I’ll forgive you if you’re not shocked — sprang from Michigan. More specifically, it was descended from the Greek immigrants who went to the Midwest bearing the gift of chili-slathered dogs.

Since our michigan is a kissing cousin to versions in the Midwest, I decided to try some of those. Work-buddy Kelly — a Buckeye by birth — insisted that Cincinnati chili should be in the mix. And after taste-testing, I think it could be a distant relation. But it really celebrates its Greek heritage (it’s doused in allspice and cinnamon) while the michigan quietly pays homage to its roots with just a dash of cumin. Do I like the Ohio version? Not really. I’ve decided I have a real problem with allspice. My apologies to the Greeks.

2 Comments to “Day 196”

  1. I don’t know what to say! What an incredible eye opener for the decidedly regional influence that plays on our food consumption!

  2. I live only about 80 miles from Cincinnati. And let me tell you unequivocally: you are correct about their chili. Cinnamon in chili = gag.

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