Tag Archives: original

A Little Slice of Chicago


That headline’s more than a mite misleading.

See, when it comes to deep-dish Chicago pizza, “little” and “slices” don’t really fit the equation. A “fat wedge,” yes. A “mountainous piece,” sure. But a little slice? Nuh-uh, that ain’t Chicago.

unoEspecially when you order a personal pizza at the original deep-dish pizzeria, Uno. In this case, the 2-inch tall pizza is dislodged from its pan before it even makes it to the table. And slicing the thing? Not going to happen.

But let’s back up a minute. Why was I in Chicago and why did I pick Uno over the plethora of “original” deep-dish pizza joints scattered around the Windy City? The easy explanation is 1) work and 2) Uno was only a few blocks from my hotel. When it comes to seeing the sites on a business trip, I’m nothing if not lazy.

Because of the popularity of the place and its inverse relationship to the amount of seating inside, you make your order (at least anything pizza-related) when you put down your name. Since the pizza takes 45 minutes to make and the wait is usually under that, it means less time at the table watching the early birds already devouring their meals.

I ordered my personal pie with mushrooms, spinach and sausage, which seemed like the right combo… despite how much the menu pushed pepperoni on everything.

As it has probably been written elsewhere and in far greater detail, the Chicago pie switches the traditional sauce/cheese relationship, relegating the cheese to a crust-sealer position on the bottom. This definitely makes sense on paper, but I also can’t argue with the taste. Once I finally breached the outer wall of the crust (which is an extreme sport all in itself), the stew of cheese, sauce and toppings could not be contained.

end-of-pizzaThe best analogy I can give about eating this thing was that it was like eating soup out of a bread bowl, except with a super-hearty soup and an impervious-to-moisture and not-very-bowl-shaped bowl.

It was a thing of beauty, this deep-dish pizza. And one that my belly will remember fondly.


Chinese Pad Thai (and other likeable contradictions)


So here’s a mystery for you: why does the Pad Thai made by Chinese places taste better than Pad Thai made by Thai restaurants?

Maybe this is not a universal rule, but it sure holds true in Philly. I’ve been to at least three Thai joints here, and only two Chinese places (one of which is our regular: Square on Square), and I have to give it to world’s oldest civilization: they know how to culture-hop.

For anyone unfamiliar with the dish, Pad Thai is a stir-fry noodle dish that usually has some combination of a meat (usually shrimp), tofu, peanut crumbles and egg. It’s usually served with bean sprouts and a wedge of lemon or lime and can be considered, along with fried rice, the very definition of Asian comfort food.

This weird contradiction of tastes, in which I prefer the “fake” version over the authentically prepared food, got me thinking about other such anomalies. The only one that popped into my head was syrup.

Am I the only one that prefers to drown my waffles in Aunt Jemima rather than natural tree blood?

I think not.