The Great 3-Way Prologue

Just about six weeks ago, I posted a request for volunteers. I was looking for people that met three criteria:

a love of Cincinnati three-ways (the chili dish, not the social encounter), a (mildly) adventurous nature, and the ability to correctly employ the words “there”, “their”, and “they’re” when writing

Somewhat to my own surprise—mostly because I still have trouble believing that human beings not related to me read my nonsense here—I did actually get a few volunteers. So, yay!  My foolish plan might even work!  Also, hello, ego boost.

So, what is this foolish plan?  Not surprisingly, it all centers around Cincinnati 3-way chili.

I love 3-ways.  It’s a dish I could eat daily.  In fact, there may have been a brief period in my life (pre-Puddinette, I assure you) when I dependably consumed one probably 4 out of every 5 days.  For the record, that’s the kind of thing that happens when you put computer geeks with a shared loved for a particular anything together in an office environment.

Here’s the thing, though: I have certain…notions…when it comes to a 3-way, both general and personal.  For instance, a 3-way should be eaten as a layered dish like lasagna, not like a pasta dish.  That assertion isn’t snobbery, either.  It’s because a 3-way is about the chili, not the noodle.  If you eat one as you would pasta, what with the [insert deity of choice here]-forsaken swirling, you’re almost certain to be disappointed. It ain’t al dente, and that’s intentional.  Also, twirling up the spaghetti means leaving a good portion of the chili on the plate.  I believe we can all agree that’s not where it belongs.  It’s suppose to go in one’s belly, or perhaps on one’s shirt, but it definitely should not be left on the plate.

As for my personal issues, well, I do a lot of, um, primping, with my 3-ways.  That doesn’t mean I have a cheese-stylist, a case of Aqua-Net, and an atomizer of Ode de Chili.  But I want my crackers underneath the spaghetti, and yes, I’ll need more than that little bowl you get when you first sit down at the table.  Truth be told, evenly distributing enough crackers under there to soak up the chili (because…where does it go? Yep, that’s right) without disturbing the layers is not always simple.

It doesn’t end there, either, oh no.  After the crackers are in place, well, the cheese usually needs a little distribution too.  I don’t want bits of spaghetti or chili without a healthy covering of melted cheese.  It is a 3-way, right?  I’m pretty sure cheese is one of those “three” things.  Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I do prefer the the cheese melted into a solid molten sheet of sharp orange.  Why?  Because everyone knows melted cheese is better, duh.  It’s been proven or something.  Seriously, scientific fact.  Look it up.

After the spreading of the cheese comes the hot sauce and then the…well there’s more.  Bored with my list of 3-way requirements yet?  I know, it sounds like the contract rider for a heavy metal band:  “Exactly 10,000 non-blue or green M&M’s will be on hand at all times, and the 3-ways must have melty cheese.”  The Puddinette can scarcely bring herself to go to a chili place with me, knowing the time and effort required before I’ll even begin to eat.  She used to always fear that she’d be finished before I even started eating, but it turns out that while I’m a bit slow out of the gate, I make up for it total speed.  In other words, once I’ve finished primping, a 3-way lasts just barely longer than the Kentucky Derby, the most exciting two minutes in sports.

Anyway, so I have a deep, potentially unhealthy appreciation for Cincinnati’s 3-way chili.  What’s that got to do with the “foolish plan”?  Well, I’ve been reading the adventures of a twitter acquaintance attempting to visit all of the chili spots in Cincinnati in search of their favorite Coney (which reminds me, if you don’t read the Cincinnati Coney Quest, you should…I’m just sayin’).  At any rate, once learned about the places they’d been, I realized that I’ve only ever had 3-ways from four different sources.  Which means that while I might currently have favorite (which will, for now, remain unnamed), it’s not really valid because it’s from a statistically insignificant sample size.  If I really want to claim I have a preference, well, it’s time to try some more of what’s out there.

The time, then, has come to proudly present Puddintopia’s 3-Way Thursday.  Every month, my intrepid volunteers and I will sample the n-way offerings of a different Cincinnati chili parlor, in the same order followed by the good folks at Coney Quest.  On the last Thursday of that month we’ll post what we each thought of the “way” produced by the particular restaurant or brand in question.

But Puddin, you ask, do you really need volunteers to drag into this nonsense?  Well, no, not really, I suppose.  But then, did you somehow miss that I just wrote 300 words focused on nothing but my 3-way OCD?  Clearly, I’m not the most reasonable opinion on any matter, let alone this one.  I decided it would be better if I had other, more sane people offering their two cents as well.

Hopefully they’ll take the edge off my crazy.

I guess we’ll find out Thursday.

I totally cannot wait.