CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Sick of NAFTA? Then how about a debate over chili to spice up the presidential election? Chocolate and cinnamon are mixed into the sauce Cincinnatians call chili and serve over a plate of spaghetti noodles covered with grated cheddar. It's a regional dish with its roots in Greece and Macedonia. And it wouldn't be recognized out in the scrubland and buttes of cowboy and chuck wagon country where Terlingua holds the world's biggest chili cook-off.
So, did Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland steer Hillary into the chili wars today? He escorted her into a Cincinnati Skyline chili parlor for a campaign rally. Ohio has its presidential primary on March 4. Also, Texas -- where some critics for years have viewed Cincinnati's concoction as a usurper and fraud.
Just glance around the foodie forums on the Web, and you'll see debate like this:
"Texas and Cincinnati chili are so different they probably shouldn't even be considered the same dish. . . My best friend and her DH moved to Cincinnati about six years ago, and I've been there to visit several times -- when I describe Cincy chili to people back here they're amazed at the idea of chili served over spaghetti. To me, Cincy chili seems more like pasta served with an elaborate meat sauce -- but, however you describe it, I really, really like it."
And things have gotten pretty lively on Roadfood.com, where some contend chili is a complete misnomer for the Cincinnati dish. Even those who enjoy it say its a sauce that bears not the slightest resemblance to real Texas chili. Indeed, purists note that Ohioans often pour Cincy-style chili on cheese coneys. Those are hot dogs presumably named for Coney Island in New York. Oh, the heartburn. It's enough to make a Texan die with their boots on.