I don't get it. I don't get it at ALL. My husband, Adrian, was born here in Texas. He lives here in Texas. He pays taxes here in Texas. And yet - this man LOVES Chicago...not just loves it - THAT would be fine. Heck, I love Chicago. He is ALL Chicago, ALL the time. He is a Cubs fan before he is an Astros fan. The Bears run neck-and-neck with the Texans. Heck, our youngest, Jordan, is named after Michael Jordan from the Chicago Bulls because he was born on the date of his number, 23! He says it's because of a television station he would watch after school as he was growing up - WGN. Apparently, it's all they showed and how he grew to love it.
We have a friend, Joe Pinzon, who loves Chicago, too. (He is actually FROM there). He and Adrian have an affinity for the city AND its teams together. Cody, Joe's wife, and I - being the loving wives we are - PUT UP WITH IT. :-)
With that being said, Adrian and I decided to host a Chicago Day for Joe & Cody a few months back. (It gave me an opportunity to create a new menu!) It was a pretty awesome day, I must admit. We took Adrian's poster from back in the prehistoric days of yore with some of the past superstars of Chicago on the tablescape, along with a beautiful black and white picture we have of Wrigley Field that was a gift from our friends, Tim & Amanda Pickard. (Adrian's been to Wrigley several times, but believe me - those are stories for a different post!) We put out different items to make for Chicago date-day ambiance. But the best part was yet to come!
I made Chicago-style pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, and I put out some popcorn in a special bowl to really give a stadium feel. This kind of food is very special, as regional food is a very particular kind of food......you can't mess with it. That'd be like saying the best Tex-Mex food is in California! (It's called TEX-Mex for a reason!)
For the Chicago-Style Hot Dogs:
All-Beef Frankfurters - the key here is that they MUST BE STEAMED!! (I used Applegate Farms Organic, because they were good bun-sized hot dogs)
Poppy-Seed Buns (I couldn't find any ANYWHERE so I made my own: I used whole wheat buns and sprayed them with organic olive oil cooking spray, and rolled them in poppy-seeds and then put in a warm oven for five minutes so they kept their soft texture)
Top the dogs with finely chopped white onions, yellow mustard, Piccadilly relish (I couldn't find that, either, so I used sweet pickle relish with some finely chopped mint, which is essential to the "Chicago" flavor, and put a little bit of neon green food coloring in it for effect), a dill pickle spear - but not just ANY dill pickle spear...it has to be FRESH - I used Vlasic refrigerated spears, tomato slices, pickled sports peppers and a dash (or two) of celery salt.
For the Chicago-Style Pizza
Prepared pizza dough (I use the one I typed up in a previous post, "I Heart Leftovers")
Can Chopped Tomatoes
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Pizza Fixins of Your Choice (I made one cheese, one pepperoni, and one supreme)
Medium-Sized Cast Iron Frying Pan
Place pizza dough in cast iron frying pan and mold along the bottom and up the sides. Fill the inside with your pizza fixins, top with mozzarella cheese, and sprinkle the diced canned tomatoes over the top. Bake at 425 for approximately 25 minutes. Let sit and cool for five minutes to set. Take two large spoons or spatulas, dig around and underneath the pizza pie, and pick up to put on desired presentation plate.
Everything was so delicious. We topped it off with some Budweiser, some home-made lemonade (not together!), and a few odds and ends that made it complete. We always have such a good time with the Pinzons, but as I recall, this was definitely one of the very best! We celebrated Cody's birthday that day with some German chocolate cake (it's her favorite) and had the Bears game on TV (of course).
I tease Adrian quite often about his love affair with Chicago...but it's only in fun and because of my love affair with him. Take the time to make these kind of special days happen. Life is SO short - make decisions to have your days be as charmed as they can be......you're building the legacy of the memories you keep - and leave behind.