Chicago speak/eats (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8-23-02)
Bapopik at AOL.COM
Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sat Sep 28 09:16:48 UTC 2002
I decided to spend the three bucks and buy that 8-23-02 CHICAGO TRIBUNE
article. It's an interesting article and a good buy. I have 24 hours to
read it, so let me know if you want to read the whole thing.
It's interesting that the 8-23-02 article was corrected on 8-28-02.
"Windy City"--which remains incorrect as always--was _not_ one of the
While I was looking at alt.fan.letterman for "Paul Shaffer Drive," I came
across a large discussion that Chicago's Oprah Winfrey won a humanitarian
award during this week's Emmys. Ugh.
I went to www.nypost.com and discovered that I wasn't even a finalist for
their Liberty Medals. Is it because I haven't done as much as that retired
Con Ed supervisor? Or maybe I didn't qualify because I'm so well known--even
though NY Post judge/columnist Cindy Adams had no clue who I was?
Oh boy, am I depressed!
Anyway, here's the article:
Unauthorized Chicago ; A crash course
Chicago Tribune; Chicago, Ill.; Aug 23, 2002;
PHOTOS 5 GRAPHICS 10 MAP; MAP: Neighborhoods within neighborhoods Source:
City of Chicago and "The Chicago Neighborhood Map"(Big Stick Inc.,
Naperville). Chicago Tribune GRAPHICS: Illustrations for the Tribune by Casey
Riordan Millard, with a nod to underground comic book artist R. Crumb.
Chicago postcards you won't see in souvenir shops The John Hancock building
framed by a steel suspension bridge at North Avenue and the Chicago River.
(Postcard). A bibliophile angel above the door to the William Rainey Harper
Memorial Library at the University of Chicago. (Postcard). Green Mill jazz
club in Uptown. 63rd Street Beach. St. Pius Church parking lot, 1901 S.
(Copyright 2002 by the Chicago Tribune)
BY: Compiled by: Steve Johnson, Pat Reardon, Mike Conklin, William Hageman,
Charles Leroux, Ron Grossman, Achy Obejas, Lee Ann Trotter, Judy Hevrdejs,
Chris Jones, Maurice Possley, Blair Kamin, Scott L Powers, Linda Bergstrom
CORRECTION: This story contains corrected material, published Aug. 28, 2002.
Additional material published Aug. 28, 2002: CORRECTIONS AND CLARIFICATIONS.
In a Tempo feature Friday about Chicago, the North Avenue Bridge over the
Chicago River was misidentified.
Chicago, of course, is a Native American word for "stinky onion," or so Mrs.
O'Leary used to tell the cow that provided the milk that suckled the infant
Al Capone, who took crime to Cicero and made the city safe for the Daley
Dynasties, which are not to be confused with the Bulls Dynasties, which were
founded by Michael Jordan, who reversed the course of the river but couldn't
do a thing about the Cubs.
Or something like that.
It is easy, when you first come to a place like Chicago, to be overwhelmed by
it. You know there's a lot going on out there, a lot to take in, a lot that's
already happened, but what, exactly? It is easy, even when you have lived in
a place such as Chicago for decades, to take it for granted.
And if you live in the suburbs, well, we all know the tragic stories about
people who spend entire lives out there without once venturing into the
metropolis proper because, don't you know, there's crime there -- never mind
the hundreds of thousands of people who work in the Loop daily without be-ing
With all these clientele in mind, we offer up this inessential, highly
selective, unapologetically biased, sort of snooty, but potentially useful
crash course on Chicago. The goal on this and the following two pages is to
offer enough history and lore to allow newcomers to fake it and enough arcana
to enlighten even old-tim- ers. We can't guarantee how much will stick, but
we do know that by the end, you will at least understand that the Bears play,
in ordinary years, in Soldier Field, not Soldier's Field.
How to speak Chicago
Sammich. Chicagoese for sandwich. When made with sausage, it's a sassage
sammich; with shredded beef, it's an Italian beef sammich, a local delicacy
consisting of piles of spicy meat in a perilously soggy bun.
Duh. The definite article is a key part of Chicago speech, as in "duh tree
bears" or "duh Mare" -- the latter denoting, for as long as he wants it to,
Richard M. Daley, or Richie, as he's often known.
Duh Jewels. Not family heirlooms or a tender body region, but a popular
appellation for one of the region's two dominant grocery chains, to wit, "I'm
goin' to duh Jewels to pick up some sassage." As in most Chicago
pluralizations, the "S" is pronounced with a hissing sound, rather than the
usual "Z" sound of American pluralization.
O'Hara. Not a marcher in the Beverly neighborhood's St. Patrick's Day Parade,
but a local rendering of the name of the nation's busiest airport. The late
Mayor Richard J. Daley preferred this name to the actual "O'Hare
International Airport," which honors Chicago- born World War II flying ace
Edward "Butch" O'Hare. The place used to be called Orchard Field, which
explains why the ticket on your luggage says "ORD."
Tree. The number between two and four.
Prairie. A vacant lot, especially one on which weeds are growing.
Over by dere. i.e. "over by there," a prolix way of emphasizing a site
presumed familiar to the listener. As in, "I got the sassage at duh Jewels
down on Kedzie, over by dere.'
GOATH-ie. What would Goethe, the German poet, novelist and epigram coiner
("he who does not think too much of himself is much more esteemed than he
imagines") make of his name enshrined on a Gold Coast street but commonly
mangled this way instead of given the proper pronunciation of "GAIR-tuh"?
Perhaps this: "Everything has been thought of before, but the problem is to
think of it again."
Kaminski Park. Perhaps the high concentration of ethnic Poles makes people
want the White Sox to be playing in this mythical ballpark, rather than in
their true home, Comiskey Park.
Soldier's Field. Much of Chicago, led by the current Mayor Daley, seems to
labor under the impression that the Bears, during non- construction years,
play in a stadium belonging to one particular military man. It is a veterans
memorial of sorts, with a title formally dedicated during a 1926 Army-Navy
game, but the name is Soldier Field.
Duh Loop. Downtown, a region whose bound-aries expand or contract depending
on the whim of real-estate agents.
Two-flat. Refers not to the region's topography, but to a ubiquitous housing
style and key means of blue-collar upward mobility. You live in the upstairs
apartment of these brick two- stories and pay the mortgage off by renting out
the downstairs one.
Streets and San. The city department that will pick up your garbage on days
the alderman doesn't need any work done at his house.
Frunchroom. It's not the "parlor." It's not the "living room." In the land of
the bungalow, it's the "frunchroom," a named derived, linguists believe, from
Myths & misconceptions
The Windy City. Chicago may be the Windy City, but it is not a windy city.
According to WGN-TV's Tom Skilling, the average wind speed in Chicago is 10.4
miles an hour, less than that of Boston (12.9), Buffalo (11.9), Milwaukee
(11.5) Kansas City (10.8), Dallas (10.7) or Minneapolis (10.5). The Windy
City nickname came from New York Sun editor Charles Dana, who was tired of
hearing Chicagoans boast (or blow hot air) about the World's Columbian
Exposition of 1893.
It's too damn hot/It's too damn cold. And speaking of weather, it's not as
hot or as cold as whining locals will have visitors believe. The average
summer high temperature is 81.7, cooler than Philadelphia (84.3) or Kansas
City (86.1). The average winter high temperature is 32.2, considerably warmer
than places such as Winnipeg (13.5) or Caribou, Me. (22.1). As for snowfall,
Chicago's winter average of 38 inches is less than Buffalo gets in a bad day.
Who controls Buckingham Fountain? Chicagoans who think they're hip will tell
you that the fountain is controlled by a computer in Atlanta. An apocryphal
version says control shifted out of town because someone from the Chicago
Park District lost at poker. Although from the late 1970s to 1994 the
fountain was indeed run out of Atlanta, the computer was moved to a pump
house next to the fountain during 1994's renovation.
The Chicago Fire. Yeah, that Chicago Fire franchise in the old World Football
League was pretty mythical, as is the current Major League Soccer team with
the same name. But we're talking about the Great Chicago Fire of Oct. 8,
1871. And contrary to what many believe, it didn't wipe out the entire city.
Only 10 percent of the city's area was destroyed, about 31/2 square miles.
Still, some 250 people died and more than 17,000 buildings burned in the
27-hour blaze, which -- contrary to another myth -- wasn't started by Mrs.
O'Leary's cow. One needs only to check the Tribune of Oct. 8, 1997, which
reported that Chicago City Council had approved a resolution which absolved
the cow of all blame. Serious politicians, on the other hand, remain a myth.
Polish power. Chicago has long claimed to have more Poles than any city
outside Warsaw, with more than a million residents of Polish heritage. But
that number has fallen to 735,000, according to the Polish consulate in
Chicago. Fewer people are declaring their Polish ancestry, and cities in
Poland are growing, putting Chicago behind places such as Krakow and Lodz.
But Chicago still has the largest Polish population of any city outside
Chicago do's and don't's
Don't . . .
- Be afraid to take a CTA train between the city and O'Hare or Midway
airports unless you have a ton of luggage. It's the cheapest, quickest way to
get back and forth ($1.50 versus up to $30).
- Wait in long lines at Uno or Due for the city's best Chicago- style pizza.
Walk past the rubes, buy a frozen pie and heat and eat at home. Tastes just
- Stop short on the teeming lakefront bicycle path when jogging or biking.
Mayhem ensues. And do think about using a running track (like the outdoor one
at Chicago Avenue and Lake Shore Drive) or the many great bike paths
elsewhere in the city.
- Feel self-conscious taking one of those horse-drawn carriage rides, but get
a price quote before taking it.
- Visit Oak Street Beach if you're offended by acres of firm young bodies in
skimpy bathing attire.
- Use parking garages next to major performance venues. When the show lets
out, gridlock begins. Park a few blocks away and cab it. You'll save
aggravation -- and possibly money.
- Ask for directions to Michael Jordan's restaurant. It, like him, is long
- Visit the John Hancock Observatory. Go instead to the Signature Lounge on
the 96th floor. Same views, but it's a lounge, so you can relax with a drink
and maybe spend less than the Observatory's $9.50 admission.
- Buy mayonnaise-slathered ears of corn from pushcart vendors. Just don't.
- Ever park your car, even for a minute, in a downtown tow zone or the
drop-off lane at O'Hare.
- Waste time/money at national chains like Hard Rock Cafe, Cheesecake
Factory, House of Blues, etc. Try unique Chicago places instead, such as the
Berghoff, Zephyr Ice Cream parlor, or Manny's Deli (this sentence as
published has been corrected in this text).
Do . . .
- Plan your Art Institute visit for Tuesday night. Even most Chicagoans don't
know that the world-class but crowded art museum is free on Tuesdays and
stays open that day till 8 p.m.
- Use any chance to play the quintessential Chicago game, 16- inch softball,
unless you're a musician or brain surgeon ...who needs their fingers.
- Visit the following: a sidewalk cafe, but make sure your table is not next
to a bus stop or you'll be asphyxiated by fumes; any and all Frank Lloyd
Wright buildings; the U-505 and coal mine exhibits at the Museum of Science &
Industry; the Jazz Record Mart (no place like it); the Music Box Theatre (art
films in a kitschy old movie palace); Brookfield and/or Lincoln Park Zoo;
Powell's Used Book Stores or Bookman's Alley in Evanston; the Vienna Hot Dog
factory at Damen and Fullerton Avenues; Al's Italian Beef on Taylor Street or
Mr. Beef on Orleans Street; a Lincoln Park lagoon; Southport Lanes (bowling
with pin boys); the Chicago Cultural Center just to gape at the ornamentation
inside (this sentence as published has been corrected in this text).
- Use the free trolley service to visit Chinatown and Pilsen, two excellent
stop-offs if you want to sample neighborhood diversity.
- Be alert to the reopening of lower Wacker Drive, which is slated for
November. City cognoscenti use the lower-level roadway to avoid surface
traffic jams. And if you ever have to travel to the Southwest Side, take
another little time saver, the diagonal Archer Avenue.
- Visit Second City, Chicago's gift to the world of improv. And take
advantage of the reduced prices on Monday nights.
- Be aware that there are 24-hour restaurants (e.g. Clark's on Belmont
Avenue,) a 24-hour laundromat (Riverpoint Coin Laundry, 1730 W. Fullerton
Ave.), and an all-night pet hospital (Chicago Veterinary Emergency Services,
3123 N. Clybourn Ave.).
- Attend a Chicago City Council meeting. The sessions are open to the public
-- and zany.
- Make time for the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Chicago River tour,
combining awesome scenery, essential culture and a nice boat ride. If there
is a can't-miss tourist attraction in this city where hundreds vie for the
title, this is it.
Chicago eats: Beyond hot dogs and thick pizza
What it is: Duh, you dunderhead -- it's the organ (the plump and pale-colored
matter) inside the skull of various critters. Cooks use beef, lamb, goat and
Tastes like: When cooks get their hands on 'em, they can be creamy and
How to eat it: Tossed with scrambled eggs, with brown butter and capers (as a
French cook might do), in tortillas (for tacos de sesos) or, as they do in
some south Asian countries, as brains masala.
Where to find it: Head to Devon Avenue's eateries -- but call ahead since
they are often offered as specials. Try Usmania South Asian Cuisine (2253 W.
Devon Ave.) where the lamb and goat brain combo is seasoned with garam
masala, chiles, onions and cilantro. At Shan Restaurant and Grocers (5060-A
N. Sheridan Rd.), it's cow brains with chiles and cilantro.
What it is: Corn smut -- or, somewhat more delicately, corn fungus that
sprouts in bulbous blobs on corn during the rainy season, especially in
Tastes like: Chopped up mushrooms with an earthy flavor echoed in its inky
black color that is almost sweet, once it is sauteed with onions, epazote and
How to eat it: With melted cheese inside a tortilla, with mushrooms in
crepes, atop a sope or inside an empanada -- salsa optional.
Where to find it: The open-air New Maxwell Street Market that sprouts along
Canal Street south of Roosevelt Road at the crack of dawn on Sunday mornings.
El Colonial Restaurant (2400 S. Pulaski Rd.) does them up as quesadillas and
What it is: Dozens of kielbasa (Polish sausages) hang behind deli counters in
Chicago, but this super-sized Slim Jim look-alike -- at 16-or-so inches --
Tastes like: Spicy, dried, smoky sausage.
How to eat it: Munched on the run or with a beer.
Where to find it: Anywhere a Polish sausagemaker rules, including Andy's Deli
& Bakery (3055 N. Milwaukee Ave.) and Joe & Frank's (3334 N. Milwaukee Ave.).
What it is: A small, silvery fish that enjoys legendary status, particularly
in April when the cry goes up along the lakefront: "The smelt are running."
(This should not to be confused with the yell "the jocks are running" that
rises from the city during autumn's Chicago Marathon). The cry kicks off the
annual smelt fishing season when hundreds of Chicagoans gather along Lake
Michigan's shoreline to catch, clean, fry and eat the spiny little creatures.
Tastes like: A deep-fried, batter-dressed over- grown guppie.
How to eat it: Tail and all, sometimes with lemon, sometimes with tartar
sauce, sometimes with secret, carefully concocted recipes.
Where to find it: Freshly fried by fishermen along Chicago's coastline in
April and in eateries around town. In Mexican restaurants, they're called
charales. They are regularly on the menu at Boston Blackie's (164 E. Grand
Ave.) and at the Parthenon (314 S. Halsted St.).
There are restaurants where you can enjoy chicken in mole sauce (mole,
meaning concoction, may include peppers, spices, nuts, even chocolate) or a
Vuelve a la Vida (literally, come back to life, a cold seafood cocktail).
There are stores selling pinatas to fill with candies and break at a child's
birthday party. And there are lots of street vendors.
Paleteros sell cold treats (try arroz con leche, sort of a frozen rice
pudding on a stick). Other stands may have colorful fruit cups or elotes
Daley: Mayor (pronounced "Mare"). (...)
Mayor for Life: A term used to deescribe the present Mayor Daley.
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