Skyline Chili. Photo: vidiot, Flickr
Porkopolis: Cincinnati nabbed its first nickname in the 1830s, when the city was America's hog-processing center and rogue herds of pigs were said to wander the streets. Indeed, the ready availability of animal fat was the reason two new arrivals from the British Isles, candlemaker William Procter and soapmaker James Gamble, were persuaded to found their world-spanning partnership in 1837 (the tallow was crucial in making both products).
Almost 200 years later, P&G is still thriving, but the swine are long gone. Chicago took home the bacon by the 1860s, when its hulking meat industry eclipsed Cinti's. But one idiosyncratic legacy does linger from its high-hog heyday: the local delicacy of goetta (that's GET-her).
"It's not really very pretty – it's kind of ugly actually and it is sort of a peasant dish," shrugs local food blogger Cole Imperi. Imperi co-runs the local chapter of tastecasting.com, the social networking riff on restaurant reviewing that's recently emerged. "Goetta's origins were with the pork industry: it's made of ground meat, usually pork shoulder or a cut of meat that's not desirable, with either pinhead or steel-cut oats that kind of makes a cake. You use equal parts meat and oats and add bay leaves, salt, pepper and rosemary into it, then bake. Then you cut off a slice and fry it up in a skillet."