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Chicago Bound

September 5, 2018

Chicago, here I come.

This isn’t my first trip to the windy city, and it won’t be my last. I can’t quite recall how many times I’ve been. I know my cousin got married there. A friend from college had her nuptials there too, but those are much fuzzier because I traveled to the city with a four week old infant. And I was there at least once for to help the FCB Chicago office score a big piece of new business.

Now I’m heading back for a couple days of Yelp meetings.

I’ve eaten my fill of deep dish Chicago pizza, I’ve spent an evening at the wiener circle for a Chicago hot dog, I’ve had the crazy caramel and cheese popcorn, and I’ve even tried an Italian beef sandwich. There are certainly a lot of regionally unique foods in the area.

There are also some incredible world class fine dining restaurants, coffee shops, and cocktail bars. But I won’t be sailing in those waters on this outing. One of my favorite part about working with Yelp is how casual it is. My promise to myself is to pack closed-toed shoes, and to try and look at least a little respectable.

But let’s take this opportunity to do one of my favorite things: talk about the definitions of food.

Pizza isn’t bound up in one thing. A lot of things can be pizza. And Chicago style deep dish is one of those things. Crust. Cheese. Sauce. Baked in an oven. Hot. Gooey. Delicious. An umami bomb. An Italian sausage delivery device.

Sure, it’s thick. Maybe it feels more like lasagna. Perhaps eating it with a fork and knife turns out to be a reasonably sensible solution. And walking with a slice of the stuff is unthinkable. But that doesn’t change its fundamental makeup.

I’ve actually never understood those who argue that deep dish isn’t pizza.

Perhaps some of that has to do with living in California and having regular access to a place called Zachary’s. For over a decade I was able to enjoy Chicago style deep dish on the West Coast. And it was incredible.

In fact, I have enjoyed Zachary’s more than some of the most lauded Chicagoland deep dish joints. And that is entirely attributable to the brightness of the tomatoes, and how their zesty acidity lightens the dish.

There. I’ve said it.

Maybe on this trip I’ll find a deep dish pie that really lights me up as much as the ones I’ve enjoyed in Berkeley. But I’m not counting on it. The West Coast sensibility is a lot different from that of the Midwest.

And the Midwest is a lot different from New York.

I don’t begrudge Chicagoans their heavy, meat leaden, cheese stuffed pizzas. They are worthy of admiration. It’s just not the kind of food that I crave.

Once I return, it will be time to get ready for the Jewish new year. But hopefully I’ll be able to squeeze in some time to talk about any Chicago finds I’ve enjoyed along the way. Surely, I’ll do my best to keep track of my travels on Yelp. So in the meanwhile, feel free to follow along over there. Cheers!

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 5, 2018 8:27 pm

    While there are definitely people who passionately love deep dish pizza, most of the pizza ordered in Chicago is not deep dish. Going by memory here, but pretty sure it was the guy that runs the Chicago Pizza Tour said less than 10% of the pizza ordered is deep dish. Granted that is Grub Hub data so you have skewed age groups suing the service and some deep dish places aren’t on Grub Hub. But even if you bump the 10% up some, a person is statistically more likely to be eating a thinner style slice.

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