Ask a Texan and a resident of Cincinnati to describe what chili is, and you’ll get two very different answers.
Cincinnati chili is essentially “something like a ground meat pasta sauce, with a Greek twist on chili spices,” says paulj. Cinnamon, cloves, and even chocolate are the characteristic spices, mattstolz adds. The beans, if they’re present at all, are served on the side.
Meanwhile, Texas chili is more of a “glorious beef stew” flavored with a mix of chile peppers, caseyjo says. Beans are not invited. “I defy my Texas-born parents by adding the tiniest bit of kidney beans, but they haven’t disowned me yet,” caseyjo says.
Of course, the popular conception of chili is a stew made with lots of beans, tomatoes, vegetables, and meat. “I grew up thinking I didn’t like chili because all I ever was exposed to was canned chili with kidney beans,” laliz says. “What a travesty!” “I wish they’d call Eastern chili, kidney bean stew, ’cause it sure ain’t chili to me,” Passadumkeg says.
Discuss: Cincinnati chili has no beans?