I’m off to the nether reaches of Ohio today, Dayton tonight, Cincy tomorrow, and there are native culinary issues to mention. Say what you will about Cincinnati’s conservative nature or its dubious chili franchise, from a culinary standpoint, I’m glad Cincinnati gives the United States a unique product called goetta.  It’s a forcemeat, a scrapple-like pate that includes oats and is typically fried and served at breakfast. If Brian and I write a second book on Charcuterie, it will certainly be included.  Dayton, of course, gives us a culinary offering of a different sort, but as far as I know, that’s it!  (I’d be happy to be corrected though.)

Brad Parsons, over at Amazon, has posted this Q&A with me (my favorite question is what are the three things that set professional cooking apart from home cooking).

The above cartoon is by David Lyttelton and I put it up for no other reason than because I miss it from the previous design and intend to use it whenever I can.


46 Wonderful responses to “What do goetta and Ming Tsai have in common?”

  • Newsmike

    Ahh, Dayton cuisine. The thing that pops into my head is an incident from when we relocated to Dayton from Texas in 2001. We went to Kroger, finally found a few jalapeno peppers in the produce dept., but had to tell the cashier what they were.
    “Peppers? A mite spicy, ain’t it?”
    And don’t get me started on the chili issue. Cincy chili can be tasty, but please – it’s not really chili …

    But there are a few bright points up here: El Meson; Jungle Jim’s International Market in Fairfield …

  • Tulanian

    Goetta sounds suspiciously like the “white pudding” served with a full Irish breakfast. The seasonings may be slightly different, but the basic ingredients are identical, including the steel-cut oats.

  • guy

    I’m a native of that area…to me, goetta was yet another variation of the scrapple and fried cornmeal mush one could find all over the place.

    As far as Cincinnati Chili goes, I’ve always wondered why everyone gets so hung up on a name…it is, and always has been, a Greek-style meat sauce (the recipe itself is not all that different than a meat sauce used to make pastitsio) served over spaghetti or on coneys. It has never tried to represent itself as anything but.

  • lisa the waitress

    What?! No Columbus stops? We have buckeyes, that’s a contribution to the culinary world, right? Jeni’s Ice Cream? What does it take? You have to drive through on your way home!

  • artnlit

    I know it isn’t just an Ohio-thing, but I include White Castle on that list (the first place I had them; yes, fast food, but the burgers are addictive like heroin!)

    PS> Michael, there are a few typos on your Upcoming Book Events list.

  • Bob

    If you find the local chili franchise “dubious”, perhaps you should try one of the family run chili parlors, like Camp Washington Chili or Blue Ash Chili. As for Dayton cuisine, I would certainly second the El Meson.

    As for Cincinnati Chili not really being “chili,” it’s not – it’s more like consume.

  • Heather

    So, back to the title of your blog entry… what is answer to What do goetta and Ming Tsai have in common?

  • Drew Vogel

    Goetta is good stuff. The scariest goetta story I’ve got (which I’m sure pales in comparison to stories others might tell!) follows…

    I was working in an office with a transplanted Milwaukie-ian. One day we got on the subject of goetta, and she said she’d only tried it once, and proceeded to tell me about that. She was at her butcher’s and he was working on a vat of the stuff. She commented on it, and he gave her a taste which she liked. He then said, “You’ll like it even better when it’s cooked”! I shuddered then and I shudder now, just thinking about that.

    I look forward to meeting you tomorrow here in Cincinnati!

    P.S. My guess for what Ming & Goetta have in common: “A writing desk”.

  • kanani

    It’s difficult for me to imagine. I grew up in an area known for growing vegetables, and though I can discern a walnut from an almond tree at 65 mph, goetta has me stumped.

    But perhaps it’s because of this: “Glier’s Goetta, the largest commercial producer of goetta, produces more than 1,000,000 lb (450 metric tons) annually, around 99% of which is consumed locally in greater Cincinnati.”

    That 1% never made it to where I grew up on the banks of the delta in California.
    Happy Thanksgiving. I’m flying out to cook turkey for an elderly aunt & uncle.

  • Annie

    Michael, I like that caricature of you too, but I always think the chef you’re creating should look more like Bourdain.

    What are you doing all day at the Culinary on 11.28? It’s the only one of your dates i think i can get to, but the CIA site gives no information. Is there an admission fee? What hours will you be there? How can I convince my boss that seeing you is important to my work as a social work intern?

  • Phil

    What do Goetta and Ming Tsai have in common? They’re both from Ohio, and I find both of them rather bland.

  • janet

    It’s impossible for me to overstate how much I prefer the cartoon to the glamour pic you have up now.

  • kanani

    Oh, the picture. I noticed people have been giving either thumbs up or down to the windblown look.

    It’s a nice photo. It makes you look like a wistful Jim Burden in “My Antonia,” standing on the windswept plains, thinking of getting some goetta.


  • Dan Connor

    Hey wait a minute. Remember the show Roseanne when she and her loopy sister opened a restaurant serving “loose meat” sandwiches.

    Can someone tell me what a loose meat sandwich is ? I really need to know. Those Ohioans eat some weird stuff uh ?

  • guy

    Loose meat, I believe, was an Iowa thing (and unless I’m mistaken, that’s where “Roseanne” was set) not an Ohio thing. The closest thing we had, in SW Ohio, was the sloppy joe (but it’s not the same thing).

    You can find recipes recipes online, and I think Alton Brown uncovered a similar food in MO in “Feasting on Asphalt”.

  • Claudia

    Mon Dieu, where did the rest of the blog go? I’m only getting today’s Surprises in Touring page and comments, and if everything else has been archived, where’s the archived tab?

    Strange . . . I was getting the full blog earlier. No conspiracy theories, please . . .

  • Chance (Is I Am Or I Know Your Boss)


    “Mon Dieu, where did the rest of the blog go? I’m only getting today’s Surprises in Touring page and comments, and if everything else has been archived, where’s the archived tab?”

    What Claudia said, Ruhlman.

    Did Bourdain sell your archives to FN’s Bob Tuschman?

    “Strange . . . I was getting the full blog earlier. No conspiracy theories, please . . .”

    One word: Besh.


  • Chad Edward

    Ohio is a terrible place. I’m glad I live across the River in Kentucky, where Glier’s Goetta is actually produced. Just two blocks away from the plant you can have one of the most authentic goetta experiences at about 3:00 AM at the Anchor Grill. Order a G.L.T. with cheese: goetta, lettuce, and tomato. Seriously!

    See you tomorrow, Michael. Offer stands for drinks at JeanRo after your signing.

  • JoP in Omaha

    Yes, “loose meat” sandwiches are an Iowa thing, but surrounding states have them, too. As I recall, Alton Brown’s most recent Feasting on Asphalt did visit a midwest favorite loose meat franchise, Maid-Rite. (You can search and find maid-rite sites.)

    As stated above, loose meat is similar to sloppy joes, but it doesn’t have the sauce. Maid-rites are seasoned, steamed (I think) ground beef that’s been stirred and mixed so that the ground beef is in teeny little pieces with no visible fat or grease in the mix. This is put on a bun, and variety of toppings can be added.

    I simulate Maid-rites at home by browning ground beef, breaking it up as it browns and draining the fat. Then, I add stock, salt and pepper, and let it simmer until the stock is gone. Now, it’s seasoned browned ground beef. It’s put on a hamburger bun, packed down a bit, and topped with whatever you like. My choice is chopped onions, cheese and ketchup.

  • Kim

    Yeah, goetta! This was written up in Saveur’s annual Top 100 about three years ago (I think) although I’m not sure that they spelled it this way. I asked a Cinci friend of mine to bring me a “tube” of it and in all honesty, I couldn’t bring myself to actually eat it. He didn’t understand why I wanted to try it either. I’m sure that it has its comfort moments. Looking forward to your and Brian’s take on it

  • Tags

    Does Yellow Springs count as Dayton?

    Open 24/7 xcept Xmas. If you get there by 4:30 AM, you can watch them make the ice cream. At least that’s what it says in “The Very Best Ice Cream and Where to Find It” by Carol T. Robbins and Herbert Wolff circa 1985.

  • Sakurako

    Ohio’s not that horrible.

    I second the praise of Jungle Jim’s. It’s one of the hap-hap-happiest places on earth, to me.

    There’s also Landes meat market; I’ll sing the praises of that place whenever and wherever I can.

    The Dayton reading/signing was great. Thank you.

  • Sakurako

    Ohio’s not that horrible.

    I second the praise of Jungle Jim’s. It’s one of the hap-hap-happiest places on earth, to me.

    There’s also Landes meat market; I’ll sing the praises of that place whenever and wherever I can.

    The Dayton reading/signing was great. Thank you.

  • Sakurako

    Ohio’s not that horrible.

    I second the praise of Jungle Jim’s. It’s one of the hap-hap-happiest places on earth, to me.

    There’s also Landes meat market; I’ll sing the praises of that place whenever and wherever I can.

    The Dayton reading/signing was great. Thank you.

  • Sandy

    I don’t remember goetta at all, which is strange since my father went out of his way to eat every headcheese, blood sausage and offal infused dish in his path. Sounds interesting, though.

    I recently ran across my mother’s 50s recipe for chili from the Plain Dealer. I made it out of homage to her and my husband asked me where the rest of the recipe was. He wanted more than ground beef soup. And no, not a pepper went into the thing. Chili powder, that’s about it.

    The Maid-Rites Alton featured definitely reminded me of what we called sloppy joes before the Manwich can. Though, we added a few more things.

  • Artful

    Kinda sorta off-topic, but I once ate at Pete Rose’s restaurant in Kentucky’s largest city. Twas awful. Anyone know of a Sports Guy’s Restaurant that’s actually good?

    Don Shula (an old football coach) has a Steakhouse Chain that’s not horrific. That’s the only one I know of.

    Might be a good subject for a Foodie Blogger’s column.

  • Drew Vogel

    @Sandy… Seek out some goetta and try it — slice it thin and fry it hard in a pan. I bet you’ll like it.

    Maid Rites are different than Manwich in that Maid Rites are dry… There’s no sauce on them. has an interesting history (and recipe) for this interesting sandwich.

    Another Ohio claim-to-fame: Charles Manson was born in Cincinnati, Ohio.

  • livetotravel

    As a former Buckeye (Greenhills/Cincinnati and Cleveland)it would be a tragic omission not to mention these Ohio culinary contributions…
    -Stouffer’s frozen dinners – yummy – salisbury steak!
    – Shaker Lemon Pie –
    – Opera Cream candy from the Papas family
    – Cincinnati pork products in general
    – Aglamesis Brothers ice cream!

  • Drew Vogel

    Michael’s talk/signing last night at Joseph-Beth Booksellers was and very informative. He’s a laid-back, friendly, approachable guy, and was happy to talk with the group of listeners for more than an hour before signing books.

    Hearing him recount the story from MAKING OF A CHEF where he braves a snowstorm was great. That story — that whole book — was formative for me in my decision to pursue the culinary arts.

  • Amanda

    Yay, goetta! Last time my husband and I went back to my hometown of Cincinnati (we live in Boston now – something I have in common with Ming Tsai) we had to bring a cooler so we could bring back all of the delicious pork products. Between Findlay Market and Kroger’s we made a killing, bring home items such as Glier’s Goetta, cottage ham, Bob Evan’s sausage, mettwurst… plus some dressing from Sturkey’s and some bourbon balls from across the river. In addition to the great meat selection in Ohio, I also find myself missing all of the wonderful bakeries, including Servatii’s (where I worked one summer years ago) and Busken’s. I find that in the places I have lived since (DC and Boston) there are upscale bakeries (i.e. Finale) and places that have one specialty such as great bread or cupcakes, but no old school places that do it all (bread, cakes, donuts, torts, cookies…) like those bakeries in Cincinnati. I’d kill for a maple frosted custard filled donut from Busken’s right now…

  • Christine in the 'Nati

    Thanks for a fabulous talk/signing last night, Michael! Your comments on finesse were truly inspiring. Even though I’m not in professional cooking anymore, I too agree that setting foot in a professional kitchen changes you–mostly for the better. Learning about mise en place makes you better at everything in your life, I believe. And although I still have a mouth like a sailor, I wouldn’t trade my 7 years in a kitchen for anything in the world.

    Cincinnati’s not a half-bad place. Too bad it took me years to figure that out. We’re so happy you took the time to eat at Zip’s, a local burger institution. The secret, as I know it, is a zillion year old clamshell grill. That, and it’s simple. There’s nowhere else in the city I’d rather get a burger–except maybe their sister restaurant Main Street Cafe in Newtown (but only because my husband’s family owns it).

    Other local faves, I’m sure mentioned by others, include Busken and Graeters. Ahh cinnamon sugar twist donuts and black raspberry chip ice cream, you’ll be the downfall of my new workout and diet plan! Also got to love the Jungle Jim’s. We really are a great food city. Now if only we could do something about the pizza…New York Style, it is not.

  • Lynda

    Really enjoyed your talk in Dayton at Books & Co. Your passion for food is contagious! I hope you had time in Dayton to try some of our fabulous restaurants. Meadowlark is excellent, serving the local, fresh foods you spoke about. Having lived in many places around the world I was amazed to find that Dayton has many chef-owned restaurants.

  • DJK

    Michael, for those of us in Cleveland, would you recommend the stock sold at The Souper Market? If their stock is as good as their soup, I’d think that might be a more practical option.

  • Angie in Atlanta

    Admittedly, I was not looking forward to spending this week in Dayton because I was deathly afraid of being forced to eat at every Olive Garden within a 25 mile radius. After dragging my mom to your signing at Books & Co., she finally released her death grip on the chain restaurants and allowed me to pick some locally owned restaurants to try out. I was pleasantly surprised by not only the number of locally owned places but the quality of the food (and Mom has been very complimentary of the food…calling it “specially cooked”. lol, I guess that’s what happens when you’re used to eating chain food!).

    Dayton’s got a long way to go before it becomes a “foodie” town but…it’s trying and that’s what counts. Now, if they can only teach the produce guy @ Kroger what parsley is….

    BTW, agree…next time you’re in town, Landes’ is a must! Had our hogs butchered there when I was younger. I can still taste the cracklins!!! Mmmmm…

  • Joyce stuck in the wastelands

    How cruel to mention the line of Blue Ginger
    oriental foods including pre prepared
    dum sum noodles for those of us destined to
    subsist on microwaveable foods! I’m stuck in
    the house due to results of a fall 9 months ago and watching Top Chef or Iron Chef or
    reading your food blogs really drives me nuts.
    I tried googling Target superstore Blue Ginger
    etc hoping to find an online source I could
    order thru the mail but to no avail…NEW
    RULE…you can only blog about foods which are
    available by mail and include the SOURCE info.
    Would be sparse blogging woudn’t it…sigh.
    rock on.

  • guy

    Amanda — if you’re reading this — I also live in the Boston area. Bob Evans’ products are carried by a local Walmart Supercenter (or whatever it is called — the one with grocery items).