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Archive for the ‘chicago’ Tag

As the Crows Fly   Leave a comment

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The Atomic Weight of Love begs the question: how heavy is love? Elizabeth J.Church’s novel has war as its bookends: World War II and Vietnam. The passage of time reflects changes in attitudes toward conflict and women.

Meridian Wallace is a brilliant, young student interested in pursuing not only a college education, but an advanced degree in ornithology. This is unusual in 1940s Chicago. While at university she meets and falls in love with professor Alden Whetstone, who is secretly involved with the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, N.M. Although he can’t reveal his research, he convinces Meridian to postpone her studies, move across the country and marry him. There will be plenty of time later to pick up where she left off academically. Ha!

Alden’s commitment to his work and the slow disintegration of a loving relationship could seem a cliché. Yet, Meridian manages to flourish even when the attitudes of the day bear down on her. On her own, she continues to study birds without the benefit of academic resources, she makes a few friends despite being ostracized for not having a doctoral degree like most of the wives in her community. Although they are well-educated they do nothing with their education.

Meridian falls in love with a much younger man but maintains the façade of her marriage with Alden, who becomes increasingly narrow-minded and unlikable as the novel progresses.

The author is masterful in the transformation she ascribes to Meridian and the world around her.

The Atomic Weight of Love
Five Bookmarks
Algonquin Books, 2016
352 pages

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No Buttermilk Biscuits Here   Leave a comment

crisp interior

One of my middle son’s favorite foods is fried chicken; I’ve jumped on that band wagon with him. It started with my introduction to Bouchon’s buttermilk rendition. It soon evolved to include waffles. But, for now, I’ll stick to the hens.

When Food and Wine magazine listed the best places in the country to find the crispy comfort food it was like finding a treasure map. The timing was perfect as I was making a trip to Chicago, which boasts three of the 33 on the list. We only had time to try one: Crisp.

crisp chicken

When we wandered into the small, unimpressive order-at-the-counter eatery I was surprised. The preparation here is not what’s served with mashed potatoes and peas. This was Korean fried chicken, which sent my taste buds in a completely different direction than they’d traveled before.

First, diners choose between wings or boneless strips. Then there’s a choice of sauces. These range from plain, slightly sweet, a smoky spicy and a Buffalo spicy. I went with the sweet. Honey, ginger, garlic and soy were the obvious flavors coating crispy pieces of chicken that had been flash-fried twice. They were sticky, thanks to the honey, but not at all greasy.

crisp chickens

Crisp also serve sandwiches, Buddha bowls and Korean burritos. Sides include brown rice, onion rings, greens, kimchee (sic) and shoestring potatoes.

I have my go-to places for traditional fried chicken. Nonetheless, I don’t mind continuing the quest for perfect poultry, especially when I find such different spins like Crisp’s.

crisp inside

Crisp
Four Plates
2910 N. Broadway
Chicago, Ill.

Inverted Pizza   Leave a comment

giordanopizzasign

Upside Down Pizza doesn’t sound nearly as appetizing as Chicago Stuffed Pizza, although it actually is topsy turvy. Except for the crust, everything is out of place: cheese is first covered by the generous toppings, which are underneath the rich tomato sauce – and it’s all a couple inches thick. The place for stuffed pizza in Chicago is Giordano’s. More than a dozen Giordanos grace the city, and numerous others are in the suburbs, but this does not have the feel of a pizza chain.

A recent trip passing through the Windy City’s downtown included just enough time to dine at Giordano’s – keep in mind it’s not a place to grab a quick bite; plan on 35 minutes from the time the order is placed to when the heavyset pizza arrives at your table. The waiters were consistent in their time estimate. And, they were pretty accurate. It’s worth the wait.

giordanospizza

Deep dish is a more apt description of the pizza at Giordano’s. Toppings, or fillings if you want to be more accurate, include the standards – pepperoni, sausage, pineapple – but also offer some creative options – broccoli, artichokes, pesto chicken. Our visit was on a Friday, during Lent, so we ordered a pie with green peppers and mushrooms.

Besides its very bulk, one of the most impressive features of the pizza is the buttery crust: it’s flakey! And, given the weight it carries, it doesn’t lose its texture. Although thin crust is a menu option, it only raises the question: why?

giordanopizza

Giordano’s
Four Plates
815 W. Van Buren
Chicago, Ill.