Monday, April 12, 2010

Windy City Cooking: Week 31

(Ed.'s Note- Every Monday, Chicago's Jason Hissong writes Windy City Cooking, a column whose title says it all. Note: this column was originally scheduled to be posted last week. Enjoy! -Max)


Opening Day
by Jason Hissong
5 April 2010

I have been to so many Major League Baseball games in my 28 years that I can't remember them all. When we moved to St. Louis in the late 80s, I remember Dad would turn on the tv to watch the Cardinals, but listen to the radio so we could hear Jack Buck. There was the game I attended my sophomore year of High School in which Mark McGwire tied Roger Marris' home run record at 61. There was that scorcher of an afternoon the day after my sister's wedding. The sun was so hot in the middle of July, in St. Louis, that I remember not enjoying the game much. There was that first, cold cold April day a few years ago that was my first ever trip to Wrigley with three of my best friends. There are the games in Houston's Astrodome, and Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium that I don't remember because I was so young. There was Mark Buerhle's first no hitter- another cold April evening in Chicago, on the south side. That season I think I went to 15 games between Wrigley Field and The Cell and Buehrle's no hitter was the only ticket I actually paid.

Opening Day is, once again, upon us. There is no grass as green as baseball grass. No sky as blue as the blue sky on sunny afternoons from inside the ballpark. There is no better time well spent than the time spent inside baseball stadiums, watching games, conversing with friends and strangers alike about this player's stats, or that player's history, or remember that time, or this is the year.

And with baseball, and trips to baseball stadiums comes food. The two are intrinsically linked. There are Dodger Dogs in Los Angeles. Up the coastline in San Francisco there is sushi and sake. There are hot dogs, and cotton candy, and pretzels and nachos. And peanuts. I don't remember a lot of those early games I went to with my parents before my high school days, but I always remember that, as we left the stadium I would walk the entire ailse of seats over crushed peanut shells. There's a joy in that crunch. Dad and I would get a huge bag of peanuts for cheap outside of Bush Stadium and bring them in. And, sure enough, somehow, by the end of nine innings the peanuts would be gone, with their discarded shells waiting to be crushed once again by exiting feet. Wrigley Field is the only place in the world, I'm convinced, that turns Old Style from a completely useless beer to the only choice possible. That's the magic of baseball. There are Chicago style hot dogs and regular hot dogs, I'll take two please. With mustard and relish, only. There are hamburgers from the grills. And Polish sausages. And cotton candy for the kids.

And, if not at the stadium then shortly after, at Goose Island, or Uncommon Ground, or some other place. The electric excitement of the game still in the air.

Baseball is here, my friends. And there is little that is better.

What Others Cooked for Me, What I Cooked, Where I Ate

I've cooked nothing this week, save for the two poached eggs to go with my two pieces of toast this a.m.

I've eaten everywhere this week. Tuesday night I found myself back with a familiar cast of characters at Tony's Burrito House at Damen and Belmont. I had the chicken burrito. Wednesday brought more Mexican from Garcia's. My friend Mike and I each got the taco dinner, he had steak for both of his and I had one chicken, one steak, and one chorizo. Thursday Jonathan and I went to Elephant and Castle post-haste after work to dine on huge burgers and two pints of Guinness, each. We love going there because it reminds us of our semester in Cambridge, England where we spent many many so many evenings in pubs, eating fish and chips, drinking Guinness. Friday Jonathan and I found ourselves at the T Spot on lincoln avenue, eating sushi after our four mile run. Saturday, Jonathan, his parents Sue and Steve, and I found ourselves enjoying a cocktail at The Violet Hour before heading to dinner at Feast. Sue had a hamburger, Steve had the salmon, Jonathan had the lamb chops, and I had the goat cheese stuffed chicken breast. It was incredible. I thank the Iseman's for their generosity.

Many more people to thank for Easter Sunday: thank you to Ashley for driving me to get coffee after the sunrise service. Thank you to our peers who prepared breakfast between services, it was all amazing. French toast. Quiche. Waffles. Fruit salads. Thank you to my friends Katie and Christen for hosting and preparing brunch- eggs benedict, roasted asparagus, strada, skewers of cheese, prosciutto, and cantaloupe. It was all very delicious. AND THEN, another huge thank you to Steve and Sue Iseman for preparing ham, cheesy broccoli, potatoes, and rolls for Easter Dinner. This is exactly why my life is so blessed.

1 comment:

  1. I feel the same way about baseball, only my team is the Red Sox. I sometimes turn the radio on when the game is nationally broadcast, but otherwise our own teevee broadcasters are great. I remember when we bought our first color tv and that incredible green showed up for the first time. What a difference that was after all the years of watching games in b&w, something your youth keeps you from remembering.

    As a kid I used to go to sleep in the summer with the radio on listening to Curt Gowdy, Boston's legendary announcer. And now, alas, I still tend to fall asleep to night games.