Special to AOL from Dr. Don Kinsman
"This here ain't chili, son. This here's soup." I don't know if that quote was really delivered, or if it is apocryphal, but some people around
To be honest no one will ever confuse the chili Cincinnatians have loved for over 80 years with
Oh, I suppose you could have just a bowl of
The "regular" coney is a hot dog on a bun with mustard and onions and chili spread over it. Most people, however, opt for the cheese coney which is a regular coney topped with a generous portion of shredded, sort of orange colored, cheddar cheese. You have to know that
Coneys and cheese coneys are eaten as a meal themselves, but more often they are consumed as an accompaniment to the real star of the
You do see people dashing some hot sauce onto the three-way before eating and I once worked with two fellows who would each request his own bottle of hot sauce and then empty the whole bottle onto his three-way. Sort of a Texas-flavored three-way, I suppose.
Hot sauce aside, the burning questions are: "How do you eat your three-way" and "What do you do with the oyster crackers?"
Some folks like to start out by digging down and scooping up a fork full of the hot spaghetti and chili along with a generous amount of the cool cheese so that the first few mouthfuls have a both warm and cool sensation. But this holds true for only the first few mouthfuls because the cheese melts into the spaghetti-chili mix as you eat. Others like to smoosh the cheese right into the mix and melt it at the very start so every forkful comes up as a delicious cheesy mass. Although I have never personally witnessed it, I have heard that some few souls even order the dish made with the cheese on the bottom so that it is pre-melted. Personal choices are all best explored over time.
Now as to the crackers, I have seen many people munch them down plain while waiting for the three-way to arrive -- something not to my taste. I have also seen folks pour hot sauce over them and eat them that way and I can attest, from having watched a couple of ladies do this one day, that hot sauce makes a really wicked stain on hospital whites.
Then there is the contingent that mixes the crackers right in with the three-way; some adding them all right at the start and some mixing in a few from time to time. My personal favorite method of disposing of the crackers is to wait until the spaghetti, chili solids and cheese are virtually all gone and all that is left is a plate of sauce with all those secret spices and then drop in the crackers and stir them around to soak up that last bit of tasty goodness. Okay, I do look at it and things pass through my mind like "How many calories are in this?" and "Gotta be grease in there," but it tastes so good -- and besides I don't eat this every day, right? I just end up thumbing my nose at the food police, promise myself to walk a few extra laps and wolf down the soggy, tasty crackers.
"Good" and "delicious" aren't really all that descriptive so how does it actually taste? I don't think I can truly describe it well. Mildly spicy, cheesy, maybe even a touch "exotic?" I can't really say, but I can tell you that when I introduced my quite conservative older sister, a rather finicky eater, to this cuisine many years ago she said: "If I lived here I would have to have this at least once a week.
You need to try it yourself. If you don't happen to live around
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