Munchies

Make the Cincinnati Chili That Won a James Beard Award

This chili-smothered spaghetti tastes way better than it sounds.

by Munchies Staff
Jul 1 2017, 2:00pm

Cincinnati chili: Where do we even start? This regional dish seems like the kind of half-baked idea that could have only been invented by a group of college freshmen after clambaking their dorm room.

But the story goes that in 1922, a group of (presumably not stoned) brothers created this recipe at a small burlesque theater called The Empress. Nearly a century later, Cincinnati is still enamored with this bizarre plate of cold spaghetti topped with a "massive dome" of heavily spiced (and mildly sweet) chili, and—depending on preference—beans, white onions, oyster crackers, and a massive pile of unmelted cheddar cheese.

We're not quite sure what this says of the cultural fabric of Cincinnati, but despite the fact that there are around 250 chili parlors in the city that serve up this hot (and cold) mess, the rest of the country hasn't really adopted it. Maybe because the rest of the country can't even agree on whether it's real chili.

Regardless, it has enough merit that the James Beard Foundation awarded Camp Washington parlor a Best Regional Dish award in 2000. And just for you, we got Camp Washington's recipe.

RECIPE: Classic Cincinnati Chili

Before you try it, though, you might want to go clambake your dorm room.