Friday, April 10, 2009

Chili and the Spaghetti Sauce

Well Company, unless you've been under a rock, or have never surfed through my old posts, or maybe have just stumbled across this one for the first time, or maybe have a bad memory, or maybe are illiterate, or maybe only look at the pictures, you know about my long love affair with chili, specifically Cinncinati chili. And Cinncinati chili is delicious, so I never mind when it makes an appearance in my life. In this case it wasn't Cinncinati chili proper, as it wasn't made with the cinnamon and chocolate and whatnot, and I didn't order it as a blank-way. In fact, I didn't order it at all (it came as a two-way, in case you are wondering, with just meat and beans). Sit down, get comfortable, maybe lie down on the floor with your favorite blanket, and I will tell you all about it.
I went out for pizza and beers with Sue Too and the Dr. J. family. So of course, because we went out for pizza and beer, I ordered all-you-can-eat spaghetti and meat sauce. Sue Too ordered this delicious looking and tasting thin crust pizza with every topping known to man piled on top of it. The Dr. J. family got a half and half pizza with just cheese on the right half and just pepperoni on the left side of it. Unless, of course, you are standing on the other side of the pizza, in which case the pepperoni would be on the right and the naked side would be on the left. So anyway, I couldn't just follow the herd. I am not a lemming who is about to step off the cliff into oblivion. At least not on this issue. So I went for the value and got the delicious spaghetti to go with my MGD.
It came out, delivered by the owner man. There is a couple that owns this place, and they were both there working behind the bar while Dr. J's son, we'll call him Young J, was wooing their daughter. It wasn't busy and there was no one in the restaurant, so the lot of us were just sitting in the bar area eating. So the guy owner, who was very nice, brough me out my delicious spaghetti. He set it in front of me, I said thank you, and he went off to the other end of the bar. But something wasn't right. I noticed immediately that it was especially thin for a spaghetti sauce, but I have seen thin sauces before. Hell, I have made this sauces before. So I stirred it up and poured some parmesan cheese on it and away I went.
When I took the first bite I knew immediately that something was not right. First of all, there was a bean. Now, I don't know a lot, but I DO know that beans generally do not belong in spaghetti sauce. Yet, I have put some strange things in some strange places (I immediately regret phrasing it like that) food-wise, especially in spaghetti sauce. Like, I've put peas in there, all sorts of stuff. So I just shrugged that off and moved on. But the taste wasn't right. It had kick. It tasted like chili. I even remarked as much to Sue Too. I said "This spaghetti sauce tastes like chili." But it was pretty good so I just kept wolfing down. I even cleaned off my plate with my garlic bread; scooping up all the remaining sauce. It was pretty good.
So now, I can hear some of you start to mumble and grumble. I can hear you in the crowd start to get a little unsettled there, Company. Well don't be. Relax. I can hear you asking yourselves "Why on God's green Earth didn't you say something? Why wouldn't you send it back? Why would you just eat it up? I don't get it. What is wrong with you? I believe that you should probably seek professional assistence with your obviously crippling desire to avoid confrontation. Please, please for the love of God get help for yourself." And you're right, I don't really want to cause conflict. I have never been one to try and ruffle feathers unless mine are ruffled first. So I don't like to do that. If you put a plate of Cincinnati chili in front of me I am going to eat it. That's just the kind of person that I am, I guess. I have never been one to send food back to the kitchen at a restaurant. I mean, I have always thought that food service is probably the hardest public service industry in which to work. Totally. As a chef, you have to cook for so many people, all of whom have a specific way that they like things prepared, all of whom had a mothers whose cooking yours will never rival, and all of whom are paying good money for you to include a little juice more juice with their prime rib. So with that in mind, who am I to question their spaghetti sauce? Honestly. Maybe theirs was a chili-like sauce that had won best sauce six years running at the Dent County Fair, I don't know. And if the chili-like sauce is good enough for the 15,325 people in Dent County, Missouri, then it should be good enough for me.
But it wasn't good enough for the people of Dent County, Missouri. I mean, maybe it was, but it wouldn't have won the spaghetti sauce contest at the fair. It might have won the chili cook-off though, because it was pretty good as far as chili goes. After I ordered up my second helping and the owner guy took my plate away, the owner lady came up and put her hand on my shoulder. The following conversation ensued:

Lady: Did your spaghetti sauce have beans in it?

Me: Yeah, I think it was chili.

Lady: Yeah, sorry about that. The kid in the kitchen was putting chili on the spaghetti orders by mistake.

Me: Oh that's okay, it was delicious anyway.

So yeah. The high school kid back in the kitchen was ladeling stuff onto the noodles from the wrong pot, inadvertently serving me an Upper Midwest version of Cincinnati chili. Because I didn't say anything, nobody noticed the mistake until owner lady was checking a to-go order. I, of course, thought this was hilarious. As a token of their apology they gave me my dinner for free, which was completely unnecessary but awfully nice. I undertand why they did it: it's much cheaper to keep the customer than to have to go out and bring another one in. But it was not necessary. Because once I actually go it to eat, I was hooked on their spaghetti sauce. It was thick and rich and for the meat part of their meat sauce they used the Italian sausage from their pizzas. How awesome is that? Oh man, I loved it. I didn't love it when I came back to haunt me the next day but I loved it at the time. So I will be back some Wednesday for the all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner for $8.95. And if I eat a plate of chili first I can get it for free!

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