A trip to Chicago is a great opportunity to discover the classics dishes of American cuisine in a completely new version. To get a taste of true flavours from the Lake Michigan area, be sure to try the deep dish pizza, Italian Beef sandwiches or sweet-salty popcorn.
It is said that there are over 8 thousand restaurants in Chicago, of which over 20 can boast the prestigious recognition by Michelin Guide. This third largest city in the United States is also a powerful cultural cauldron, a fact which significantly translates into the city’s culinary map. You can easily find here places serving European, Asian or Latin American specialties. Despite this sea of choices, let’s not forget about traditional American dishes, especially since the local flavours have their own characteristic style.
CULINARY SYMBOL OF THE CITY
5 cm thick Chicago-style pizza, the so-called deep dish, according to some looks more like a casserole. It differs from the traditional Italian pizza by the order in which the ingredients are put on it – mozzarella cheese is placed on the yeast dough and then enriched with toppings (at one’s own discretion: peperoni, onion, mushrooms or vegetables). At the end, the pizza is covered with a thick layer of marinara sauce. Usually it takes 40-50 minutes to prepare it, and as you can easily guess, this is an extremely filling dish. Where is the best place to eat this iconic food? First of all, Uno Pizzeria&Grill which served its first deep dish in 1943. There is also a great number of fans of Giordano’s pizzeria, which boasts the title of “Best Pizza in America” awarded by NBC on the program “The Today Show”.
Americans treat sandwiches as their national delicacy and often eat them at lunchtime. It is no wonder then that Chicago has its own original sandwich, i.e. Italian Beef. And once again, American cuisine crosses with Italian influences. A legend says that it was invented at the beginning of the last century by Anthony Ferrari, who distributed lunches. He noticed that thanks to thinly cut beef, he would prepare sandwiches for 35 instead of 15 people, which was an extremely important factor during the Great Depression and meat shortage. This sandwich probably would not have gained such huge popularity were it not for the Italian emigrants who began to serve it as a delicacy at traditional weddings. What does Italian Beef consist of? It has slices of seasoned roasted and simmered beef, a long Italian roll, roast sauce and giardiniera, i.e. spicy marinated vegetables (the “sweet” version contains fried green peppers).
CLASSICS IN A NEW VERSION
We are talking, of course, about the hot dog. It would seem that the recipe for this caloric snack is simple and unchanging: a heated sausage put in an elongated bun. And yet, Chicago can boast its own version, where ingredients are treated almost like sacred components. First rule: never ask for ketchup, as hot dogs made in the Michigan area are always served with mustard. They are obligatory accompanied with relish, i.e. cucumber sauce. Second rule: the roll must be with poppy seeds. Third rule: toppings, which include onion, pickled cucumber, tomato, hot green pepper, are a must. Where can you eat Chicago hot dogs? Almost everywhere: at gas stations, street stalls, football matches. And where can you find the best ones? Apparently, those at Gene & Jude’s have no competition…
Undoubtedly the favourite snack of the inhabitants of Chicago. Interestingly, popcorn comes in two flavours: caramel and cheddar cheese, which are mixed in one bag according to the local custom. Anyone who wants to try this unique sweet-salty combination should visit Garret Popcorn Shops. The network has existed since 1949, and the long queues in front of its premises are a fairly common sight in America.