I know that someday you'll find better things.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Skyline Chili, No Way

"It's like Christmas in a can," he said.
Men. Always so quick to forgive and forget. I had NOT forgotten. Skyline chili is one of life's most unforgiving and unforgettable  experiences. It's something a person should only have to try once. Twice, if you're cursed.

"You know what I have a hankering for?" Russ announced. "Skyline chili."
"But we just had chili last week," I reminded him.
"Skyline chili is different," he said. "You put it over spaghetti.  And you can have it different ways. There's three-way, four-way, five-way..."
"Okay, I get the idea." Jeez, such passion. "I'll find a recipe," I promised.

The recipes were so bizarre, though. Nearly all of them involved cinnamon, cloves, and the use of a blender. Meat in the blender. Meat. In the same place that you make a smoothie. Meat.

I located the best of the bunch: somehow this recipe was yielding a respectable four and a half stars from the good citizens of allrecipes.com.

I followed the directions precisely.

It smelled... ?
It smelled.
It stank up the kitchen with its smell.

Already holding the title as the pickiest eater in the family--and particularly picky about chili-- I could not muster the moxie to have a sneak-preview taste.

We sat down together and had our first bites. Here I should note-- all the other family members are brave-palated eating enthusiasts. Brussel sprouts are devoured with the same urgent zeal as pizza.

"Yuck," said the kids.
"Eew, gross" I said.
"Are you sure you followed the recipe?" asked Russ.
"Yes," I hissed indignantly, despite my private doubts that something was supposed to taste this way.
"Maybe it's one of those things you just have to eat at the restaurant,"  he said very, very quietly.


We had the opportunity to find out when we went to visit Russ's dad in Cincinnati the following year.

"You'll see," Russ said.

We saw.
We tasted.

"Eew," we agreed at the restaurant. There was no mistaking it--
the flavor was EXACTLY like the recipe I'd prepared at home.


Guess what I saw in the pantry yesterday? A can of this stuff! The can was smallish by supermarket standards-- a mere 10.5 ounces-- but it loomed ominously among the other pantry fare. 

Was the radioactive glow my imagination?

"I had to get it," said Russ. "I didn't know they made it in a can. And it's gluten-free!"
"Well, hooray for that," I mumbled.

With the twist of the can opener, everything we'd (he'd) forgotten came flooding back.

Same runny-gritty consistency.
Same Christmassy scent.
Same disgusting clear-your-sinuses flavor--a
 flavor so...robust...it leaves you wishing for the ability to decontaminate each and every tastebud.
Or to scrape off your tastebuds, entirely and permanently, along with any memories of the moments before, during, and after you ingested it.

Why would anyone put this stuff in a can? Probably to contain the smell and get it as far away from Cincinatti as possible, I'd imagine. At least that's what I'd do if I was in charge of it.

If you have the misfortune of finding a can of this sand-soup in your pantry, please contact me before you attempt to eat it. I can give you some pointers on how to get it closer to edible, but it's not going to be easy, and it will require the contents of nearly a whole jar of cumin. Despite your efforts,  you'll fall victim to Post-Traumatic Chili Disorder, too.

Unless you're male, of course. Men will forgive and forget before Tuesday.
Seriously, ladies. There should be support groups for this stuff.
It's that bad.

There's a reason they're hiding it beneath THE ENTIRE STATE OF WISCONSIN!