Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Food, Glorious Food!

Even though I have lived in the Chicagoland area for 16 years now, it took this most recent trip back to the East Coast to reveal that I have not necessarily developed a sold-out love affair with Chicago delicacies. After pondering this a bit I realized that my "it's ok" attitude towards Chicago eats may be due to my taste buds lacking the nostalgic history of Windy City fare. It's not that I dislike Chicago's famous foods, I dig the hot dogs, and have learned not to drench one in ketchup. However, I didn't grow up salivating over hot dogs or with the culinary knowledge that ketchup is sinful, and thus, the whole idea of the ultimate Chicago hot dog is not really ingrained in my senses. Deep dish pizza? I can take it or leave it. I'll choose a nice thin New York slice over the deep dish any day - even if that means using a napkin to sop up the oil that rests a top that wonderful gooey melted cheese. So, while my taste buds may harbor a crush on Chicago foods, they certainly aren't married to them.

Before I left for my trip to Dallas back in July, I took 4 weeks to return to a way of eating that has always been very effective for my body type. I had just purchased a lovely gown to wear on Seminar awards night, (for a whopping $18 at a second-hand store), and I wasn't about to not fit into it. It was the push I needed to get my eating back under control. And even through my time in Dallas I was very careful not to overindulge. The result being that I felt fantastic.

However, I didn't merely stick to the plan for the sake of that trip. I knew I had a big vacation coming up, and wanted to be in a place where I could really enjoy my favorite East Coast foods without the constant worry that I was overeating and thus ruining all the work I had done. I wanted to be in a good place mentally and physically so that I could eat the foods I love!

For instance, when we head to Cincinnati we hit Montgomery Inn for ribs, Skyline for chili, and Graeter's for ice cream. So, it would only stand to reason that when in Maryland and Pennsylvania there are other favorites that must be consumed!

And, well, consume I did!

I had my fill of my favorites: Chesapeake Bay steamed crabs for one, (or, rather, a dozen), which is the type of meal that makes your mouth sting from the amount of Old Bay seasoning covering each and every one. With chunks of crabmeat, a ton of melted butter and vinegar for dunking, a feast can be had! Note: there is a lot of melted butter and a lot of licking one's fingers. You come out smelling like Old Bay, and everything is a complete mess, (this is definitely not a meal for those who insist upon manners and tidiness at the dinner table), but that's what wet wipes are for. And a trip to the boardwalk is not complete without Thrasher's Fries covered in vinegar - which can only be eaten on the boardwalk. Let's add on some Philly cheesesteak and an icee - which is NOT a slurpee - purchased from a vendor on the street and we've just about had it all.

Back at "home", we've got Nanny's sausage and peppers, eggplant parmigiana, and corn beef and cabbage . . . all in one meal. Yes, all in one meal.

I'm stuffed. I'm just now beginning to come down from my food orgy and will definitely need some detox time when I return home.

And then again, after walking Philadelphia yesterday for 4 hours, I think I've gotten in the amount of exercise needed in order to take on something else. Especially because today we're headed to an exhibit on treehouses. Lot's of climbing involved.

I'm sure I'll be famished afterwards.

1 comment:

RobbyG said...

From one foodie to another, thanks for your descriptive food orgy. In the 1987, I worked in Philly for a month, so I know what a good cheese steak is really like to savor. Philly's Best (www.phillysbest.com) on Emerson in Evanston has a pretty good version if you need to satisfy your craving. I've also visited a true crab house in Baltimore called Obrycki's (www.obryckis.com) - one with brown paper on the tabletops where they ask you how many and what size crabs you want. After a short wait, they slide the steamed crabs on your tabletop. You dig in with your friends, armed with mallets and picks and melted butter. Good, sloppy, finger-licking fun. Unfortunately, I have found nowhere in Chicago to replicate this experience. While I do own Old Bay seasoning (which I use on shrimp), I don't think I could truly recreate the experience found in a genuine, east coast crab house.

After living in Cincinnati with my parents for years, I have a constant craving for Montgomery Inn ribs, Skyline chili (especially 5 ways and cheese coneys) with sweet tea as well as black raspberry chip ice cream from Graeter's (www.graeters.com). Thanks for the reminders......now I need to go get some exercise just THINKING about all this fattening food!