Well my home’s in the delta, Way out on that farmer’s road. Now you know I’m living in Chicago, And people, I sure do hate to go. -Muddy Waters, My Home is in the Delta That lyric from Waters is a bit of an idle threat. It was recorded in 1963 at Chicago’s Tel Mar recording studios for one of the greatest records of all time, “Folksinger”. But, Muddy stayed in Chicagoland, dying in his Westmont, Illinois home in 1983.
Some things don’t get better after the first time. Despite the pornification of food, eating isn’t always like having sex. The first sip of an ice-cold Miller High Life after a long workout or the burst of flavor in my mouth the first time I tried the Black Truffle Explosion at Alinea—those are some tasty first moments I will always relish. After all, the second beer is usually a chore, and while that Alinea dish is still tasty, the surprise and delight I experienced the first time can never be replicated
Chicago is a sausage fest—but it wasn’t always that way. Ten years ago, you’d be hard-pressed to find platters of encased meats, rustic pates and cured meats outside of the old-school German restaurants. But in 2005, Michael Ruhlman and chef Brian Polcyn released “Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.” Young chefs caught the charcuterie bug and today, almost any gastropub worth its pork has a butcher’s board.
Maybe the only cuisine cliche bigger than pork right now is all things Southern. There are food porn spreads of country hams in every major food magazine. Bourbon is now on equal footing with Miller Lite in Wrigleyville. Chicago, which once counted Popeye’s as the best purveyor of fried yardbird, is overrun with crackling chicken.
Andersonville is hot. The strip of Clark north of Lawrence and its surrounding blocks are home to Chicago’s best beer bar, Hopleaf, Chicago’s best pastry shop, Pasticceria Natalina, and of course its most beloved if not quite best cinnamon roll at Ann Sather. In the last few months the strip has also seen the birth of La Cocina de Frida, Great Lake pizza, and now Big Jones, a spot for coastal southern cooking out to prove that the south is haute.