Martin’s All-American Road Trip; Stop #11 – Chicago, IL
Welcome to the Windy City! This week on Martin’s All-American Road Trip, we’re stopping in the American Midwest in Chicago, IL! The city was incorporated in 1837 and recognized as a trading and transportation hub due, in part, to its proximity and access to the Great Lakes and Mississippi River.
Today, Chicago is the third largest city in the country, and an international hub for finance, commerce, industry, technology, and transportation. With a rich history and an emphasis on the importance of culture, Chicago is certainly a city worth exploring!
Did you know the first Ferris wheel was built in Chicago in 1893 during the World’s Columbian Exposition? Today, you can visit a similar Ferris wheel at Chicago’s Navy Pier, alongside plenty of other great restaurants and attractions such as the Chicago Children’s Museum and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater! Also from the Pier, you can take a sightseeing boat tour along the Chicago River or Lake Michigan.
There are many more great exhibits throughout the city, from the Lincoln Park Zoo, to the Shedd Aquarium, as well as educational museums like the Field Museum of Natural History, the Adler Planetarium, and the Museum of Science and Industry.
Baseball is America’s favorite pastime, dating back to early in our nation’s history, with professional leagues beginning around 1876. Due to its origins, baseball has always been tightly tied to American culture and is often a favorite hobby for many, whether participating or simply watching.
Did you know Wrigley Field is the second oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball? If you love baseball, make a trip to the famous stadium to take a tour or watch a Chicago Cubs game!
Chicago is also known for its artistic culture. It boasts nearly 200 art galleries and more than 200 theaters! The Art Institute of Chicago has one of the largest collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings in the world, including works by Monet, Renoir, and van Gogh. Chicago was also one of the first cities to issue a public art ordinance which ensures that any renovation or construction of municipal buildings also incorporates original artwork for the public.
With a casual walk around the city, you can spot many of Chicago’s outdoor masterpieces. In Millennium Park, you’ll find “Cloud Gate,” often called “The Bean,” which is an incredible rounded, mirrored sculpture made of stainless steel. Also in the Park, you will see various fountains and monuments, and the intriguing arched canopy of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. For a full guide of Chicago’s public art pieces, check out www.cityofchicago.org.
The American Hot Dog
July is National Hot Dog Month! But from where did this dish originate and how has it evolved over the years?
The history of the hot dog is often debated, but it is usually understood to have derived from typical German sausages. Some sources say that in Roman times, Emperor Nero’s cook, Gaius, created the first sausage. Eventually, sausages made their way across Europe and into present-day Germany, where the towns of Frankfurt and Vienna both claim to be the birthplace of the modern hot dog (source: http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/break-out-the-buns-the-history-of-the-hot-dog). In Frankfurt, this became known as the “frankfurter;” in Vienna, “wienerwurst” (meaning “Vienna Sausage”).
Eventually, in the late 1800s, hot dogs became popular in the United States as German immigrants introduced them to New York. Since then, hot dogs have been a U.S. staple, especially in the traditional grilling season from Memorial Day through Labor Day. During this peak season, it is estimated that Americans consume about 7 billion hot dogs, with 150 million on July 4th alone, according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council (http://www.hot-dog.org/media/consumption-stats).
Many U.S. cities have their own unique version of the hotdog, from New York to Honolulu, but Chicago’s is perhaps the most easily identified. A Chicago Style Hot Dog usually consists of the following ingredients: an all-beef hot dog, yellow mustard, sweet pickle relish, white onions, tomato wedges, a pickle spear, pickled sport peppers, and celery salt, all on a poppy-seed covered bun. This style is often described as being “dragged through the garden” due to its variety of vegetable toppings, but to order this in a Chicago restaurant, you can often just request “the works.”
Check out our Featured Recipe below: A Chicago Dog on a Martin’s Long Potato Roll coated with poppy seeds!
Other Chicago Eats
The City of Chicago is also known for several other famous foods. Can you think of a few?
Deep-dish style pizza, often called “Chicago Style,” is a unique adaptation from Italian and American styles. This pizza has a very thick, tall crust and reversed layers (cheese, then toppings and chunky tomato sauce). There is a multitude of Chicago pizzerias all claiming to be “the best.” You’ll just have to try them all and decide for yourself!
Chicago also has a great barbecue culture, with many varieties, and a special emphasis on ribs. For a chance to appreciate some tasty barbecue, look for more events like the Windy City Smokeout, which took place this past week from July 10-12 and featured some great BBQ contenders such as champion Myron Mixon. Also part of this event was Bub City, a Chicago restaurant with delicious dishes such as Chopped Brisket and Pulled BBQ sandwiches on Martin’s Potato Rolls! Check it out at: http://www.bubcitychicago.com/.
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