You Can Thank Greek Immigrants for American Classic – Cincinnati Chili

If you’re going to Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky, try the chili – named for the city – a quintessential American classic that was perfected by Greek immigrants and catalogued in a book by author Dann Woellert.

The chili was a way for people to stretch their food budgets and have some taste in their lives too. In a review of the book, the Northern Kentucky Tribune noted that Woellert traced the lineage of many chili families back to Greece.

Particularly Macedonia, from which many people fled the Balkan Wars and World War I to escape to Cincinnati and bring with them the Greek penchant for cooking and opening diners and restaurants.

They included the Kiradjieff brothers, who established Empress Chili in Cincinnati in October 1922 downtown in a corner of the Empress Burlesque Theater. They invented what we know today as Cincinnati chili, the book said.

Similar to some lamb stews of Macedonia, it included spices like cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg, but used beef instead of lamb.


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