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taste chicago


What a weekend I had; hell, WEEK! It was full of insanity, fun, laughter, music, and of course, food. I pulled a cliché tourist move and went to the Taste of Chicago, on a Saturday, yeah. After a busy morning and early afternoon of teaching, I returned home to a sleeping brother, my visiting guests were out exploring, and I opted to wake that lazy fool up and take the El downtown to squeeze through the diverse, at times large, crowd to taste Chicago. The red line was murder that day. I’m still confused. It was ridiculous. We stopped at Clark and Division and just didn’t move. At all. For minutes on end. It was one of those spaces of time where you make a decision who you’re going to be: the person who huffs and puffs and queries and rolls the eyes, the person who pretends nothing is happening and they’re exactly where they’re supposed to be, or the person who keeps rubbing their belly in hunger, making snarky comments to passersby, and who calls the huffers and puffers who must know all out. Being in good company I chose somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd option. My stomach growled, impatience slowly built, but me and my bro kept our wits about us. We kept the eye on the prize. We got out and walked along the busy streets of downtown Chicago until we approached Columbus Circle and the multi-colored arches donning the festival’s name.

Now, if you ask most seasoned Chicagoans, the thought of attending Taste activates their gag-reflex. I just wanted to recognize this and say, I don’t care. I had fun. I came. I ate. I conquered. Armored with my trusted entourage, we approached the long line for the food and beverage ticket tent, waited, bought, moved on. $8 buys you 12 tickets. I bought 48 for me and my hunk of man love. First, beverage. Beer was 11 tickets. Um, no. Wine was 7. That’s more like it. A thimble of Pinot grigio later and we were ready to munch.

The format of the festival is almost t-shaped, well kind of cross I guess, the head of which leads toward Millennium Park. With approximately 60 food vendors, multiple beverage tents, musical guests, demonstrations and thousands of people, to say it was overwhelming would be a drastic understatement. We stood around like farm animals not knowing where to go or what to do. We just knew we smelled food and wanted to put it in our mouths. The biggest obstacle in the way of culinary bliss, and most other dreams, were strollers. Man if it wasn’t illegal I’d...nevermind. Happy thoughts. We circumvented them well. Again, eye on the prize.

Our first choice was a classic American hand-held delight, full of fat, cholesterol, death and deliciousness; a corn dog. Then we moved on to samosas, spicey, potatoey, saucey (these are all words by the way). What came next was this turkey and herb meatball cupcake topped with a swirl of creamy mashed potatoes. Given the quick swallowing of the shot of wine, we became thirsty and irritable. We got some orange and grape drink and continued on our quest. What came next was a delectable little pocket of heaven; a fried pork and banana dumpling, so full of warmth and soul, I loved it! Sweet potato fries encourage anything down and while we vigorously chewed those we dropped 4 tickets on some plantain and meat concoction. Also delicious.

There were some other items; amazing pot stickers, meat on a stick, random desserts, icy beverages. It made the squeezing through parents and kids on wheels much less chaotic. We were ready for naps, just like the children. Rounding off the weekend with a great BBQ and the celebration of gay PRIDE with our friends on Halsted, it was one of our more memorable weekends. My hope is that my life reflects a sense of quality and while I haven’t acquired many things, since becoming an adult I’ve brought with me some tremendous memories from travels, meals and interesting people. Taste tries to encapsulate that sentiment and therefore I’m on board. Ahoy!

Eat your face off! Enjoy =)