Today our radio station celebrated Chicago Day. I was under the understanding this holiday really belonged to Chicago. (Really-my kids have school off on Monday for “Pulaski Day” only slightly more reasonable than having the day off for University of Florida Homecoming for Alachua County, Florida students. Looking at the Internet–I learn that only our RADIO Station celebrates this “holiday.”
My nod has to go to WXRT for this fine piece of work each year for the past 5 years (though we have only caught it since moving here three years ago) The radio station features music born here, various music, political, sports, local color types of people, as well as normal every day Chicago people.
I can go on at length about the weather and about the prices in the Chicago area in a negative way. The wildlife drives us batty at times as well. Chicago people are notably not Southern in their manners–but you do get used to it. Yes, the lack of sunlight can make even the longest held tan pale.
The highlight though has surprisingly (for me) been the food. The radio station did a long piece on it–from Alinea (where girl child had a transforming meal, but Denise and I haven’t ventured–and unless it surprisingly becomes a 10.00 Groupon for a meal for two–we will miss out on it) to Hot Dougs and the Wiener Circle. (No, haven’t been to those either but far more likely.) We have had more than our share of Chicago food though and loved it in spite of our near vegetarian life in Florida. Italian Beef, Combos, Chicken Vesuvius, and Chicago Dogs, delis, pancake houses, hole in the wall places and even a pizza place or two. The farmer’s markets are incredible and breathtaking–from the fancy ones with food items I couldn’t imagine how to cook (but the friendly farmer will tell me) in higher income areas to the lower end ones where I can pick up a bushel of peppers for 10.00.
I miss the Waffle House and Burrito Brothers. I miss the house wine of the South. I miss Flying Biscuits and waitresses calling me honey. I miss Mary Macs being a “fancy” meal. (N0te: Flying Biscuit and Mary Macs are both in Atlanta–those of you visiting Atlanta for BlogHer Food may want to make time to eat at both while there–but of course, there is Waffle House and Silver Skillet and that place and oh that place too. Ok, unless you are there for a week–don’t ask me about food in Atlanta. Much shorter list in Florida–Florida despite being green and warm really doesn’t do food well.) I miss restaurant tabs for two under 10.00.
On the other hand, Chicago food stuns me with the abundance, variety, creativity, and just sheer well…balls. I hate to put it that way, but even the frou frou food has some bit of as one Chicago Day speaker said “blue collar” roots. I will miss it when we flee south after the children graduate. In the meantime, we will try what we can and appreciate what the Windy City blows our way in terms of food. (We actually calculated when we were looking for a place to live here that we couldn’t eat at every restaurant within a 15 min drive even if we ate out 3 times a day 365 days a year until the youngest graduated and never ate at a national chain–there are TRULY that many restaurants.)