I was in Cincinnati this last couple of days -- here's a brief report.
Chili -- I had it three times in two days: a five way from Skyline, a five way from Camp Washington, and a cheese coney from the goldstar at the airport while I waited for thunderstorms around chicago to subside. I have to admit (despite my fears of igniting a firestorm of dissent from vehement cincinnatians) that I was unimpressed by this local specialty, in each of the incarnations I tried. It's not that I have any strong loyalties to other regional varieties of chili, but the appeal escapes me: I can't claim to hacve been sabotaged by unfair expectations, ahving read the stern's account of this food, and having been throughly prepped by a cincinnati transplant to chicago. All the chilis I tried were basically the same--i was unable to detect the much vaunted complex spicing; the structural complexity of the dishes didn't do much for me: if the component ingredients had been of a higher quality i might have been happier. But the cheese was bland and gummy, the spaghetti over cooked and the combination nothing to write home about; the indigestion the dishes caused seems hardly a fair price to pay for an eating experience with so little bang. I guess I'l just have to chalk up the local loyalty to this chili as nostalgia, or regional pride. I think my father has the same attitude towards chicago's italian beef sandwiches, and I know my mother feels the same way about Philly Cheesesteaks. While I have been able to muster an understanding, and even affection for chicago's and philadelphia's bland bar grup, the chili in cincinatti just didn't do it.
I did however enjoy the ice cream from graeters. So, I've got that going for me.
So that's that.