Overheard: “He isn’t a genie. He is a magic talking salad. Of course he can grant wishes. God damn.” Ever given any thought as to what you would ask from a magic talking salad? I don’t think they are particularly common; at least I’ve never seen one. But it might be a good idea to prepare a small list in case you happen across one.
I just returned from a quick trip to the outskirts of Chicago, done to dole out legal advice and counsel. But as a result I had the opportunity to go for a run along some suburban creek in the shadow of Ohare, a maze of single- and double-track crossing and diverging in woods, preserved despite my strong suspicion that the development of that part of town occurred at a time when folks were not concerned with the preservation of green space. The run was fine, unremarkable except for what I got to observe about my reaction to the snaps, crackles, and pops of wildlife moving through brush. It turns out that I expect anything sounding larger than a rodent to be a moose or bear. That the area was pregnant with deer gave me many opportunities to feel my pulse quicken and my muscles tense at the sudden awareness that I was sharing the trail with a doe-eyed (literally) local. The first gave me pause. Is it safe to pass? Are there fawns near? My habits have become those of one used to seeing moose and cautious of getting either too close or between a cow and calf. The deer continued to give me pause, up until I came across a homeless man feeding them from a large bag of… Grain? Seeds? Stale bread? It seemed the deer maybe weren’t as big a threat as my fight-or-flight instincts would have had me believe.
Nothing follows a good run in the woods like pizza. And no pizza debate is greater than the classic war of preference: Chicago style versus New York. I lived in New Jersey for a few years, and my prejudices are well set, but I needed to eat and was not going to pass up the chance to sample the classics of the genre. A quick search with the following keywords—Best Chicago Pizza—will bring up more websites and online discussion than one person can read, but four pizzerias keep floating to the top: Uno’s, Gino’s East, Lou Malnatti’s, and Giordano’s. I’m not saying these are the four best pizzas in Chicago, but they are seemingly the four most talked about. There were branches of both Gino’s and Giordano’s near the hotel I was staying out (again, at Ohare). Gino’s was closing, so Giordano’s got the nod, and freshly scrubbed I went to claim a booth.
Pizza seems a poor description for what Giordano’s served. I ordered a 10-inch stuffed pizza, and was eventually brought a cheese pot pie, or maybe a cheese casserole. Has anyone ever calculated how much cheese goes into a single slice of deep-dish pie? I would be interested to know the answer; or maybe it is better not to know. And this coming from a guy who has made many a dinner out of a block of cheese and a baguette. In any case, the crust was buttery, practically pastry, the cheese was stringy, the sausage was surprisingly sparse, and while it tasted good it did not taste like pizza.
In other travel, a family trip took C and I to central Massachusetts for a funeral. We flew in and out of Boston, and had enough time to recognize that if Chicago versus New York is the preeminent question in the world of pizza, then Mike’s or Modern is the first question in the world of Boston pastry. Based on our review of the town’s garbage, I think Mike’s takes the popularity contest:
Finally, signed up for and ran the 2012 Turnigan Arm Trail Run. It was punishing, as I haven’t been doing much running up and down, but fun. It was perhaps most remarkable for two things. One, the official event photographs included what has to be the most unflattering picture of the entire race:
A close look at my face shows I have transitioned from youthful exuberance to a curmudgeonly old man about two-weeks away from telling kids to stay off my lawn. Two, to start the race we had to run past this sign:
So, maybe that is why the deer in Chicago had me on edge. And yes, that is a can of bear spray in my hand in the picture above.