Food: A Love Story

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jim Gaffigan
Tags: Humour, Non-Fiction
here. There’s been some mistake. Was I switched at birth? I am NOT a Midwesterner! Of course, when I finally got to New York City, the first thing I discovered was that I am a Midwesterner. To the ethnocentric New York City comedy scene of the 1990s, comedians were Jewish, Italian, Puerto Rican, or African American, and I quickly learned that my ethnicity was Midwestern. I was a pale piece of white bread floating in a sea of ethnicity. And I loved it. To make matters more romantic, I was from Indiana, which to many is considered the trailer park of the Midwest or simply an “I-state.” I once had someone ask me if I rode a tractor to school. Obviously not, I explained. Only the rich kids had tractors.
    In some ways it’s understandable why people have an almost dismissive view of the Midwest. It seems like everything in the Midwest was named in an effort to trick people into moving there. After all, the Midwest is not geographically in the West or in even the middle of the country. There must have been an exchange between someone loading up a stagecoach and a government official desperately trying to get people to settle in the Midwest in the early 1800s.
GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL: I see you’re moving. Where are you going?
SETTLER: Well, I heard about the gold rush in California. I’m heading out West.
GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL: Have you thought about the … Mid … west?
SETTLER: Midwest? Where is that?
GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL: It’s close to the West! It’s inthe middle! Well, it’s in the eastern part of the middle of the western part of … well, there’s plains. And those plains are great. That’s why it’s called the Great Plains. In the Midwest.
SETTLER: I think I just want to go out West.
GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL: Did I mention the lakes in the Midwest? Great lakes. In fact, one is so great they named it Superior. There’s Great Plains, Great Lakes, great everything. Did I mention it’s the breadbasket of the country? Bread is free in the Midwest.
SETTLER: Uh, okay. I guess I’ll go.
    So in the true spirit of the American settlers, we set up camp in the middle of nowhere, were bored and freezing, and we created delicious food that would be perfect to eat in February while drinking beer and watching football.
    Chicago
    I grew up in Northwest Indiana, which is a suburb of Chicago. I love telling people in Chicago I’m from Indiana. There is usually a perplexed look of “Where’s that?” I then explain that Indiana is the bordering state, which is ten minutes away. I had one Chicago woman describe Indiana to me as “the state with the road to Michigan in it.” All these insults aside, I forgive you, Chicago. I love Chicago and Chicago food.
    Chicago is famous for its deep-dish pizza, but that is not the only local specialty. If a city is lucky, they will have one food specialty. Buffalo has wings. Philly has the cheesesteak. Chicago has so many. The best hot dog, the best Italian beef, and, of course, the best pizza are all in Chicago. Now, before Northeasternersget all defensive about New York–style/New Jersey–style/New Haven–style pizza, let’s embrace this fact: there is great pizza in many different cities, but Chicago is the only place to get deep dish. It’s the only place that deep dish makes sense. Only Midwesterners would be patient enough to wait an hour for deep dish or gluttonous enough to actually eat deep dish.

    Just a little snack before I go onstage in Chicago.
    Chicago deep dish takes forever to cook and costs as much as four New York–style pizzas. Chicago deep dish is a commitment. You arrive at Uno’s, Giordano’s, Gino’s East, or Lou Malnati’s and place your order, and then you wait and wait for what seems like a lifetime. At times it feels like they are purposely tormenting you to make the deep-dish pizza seem all the more appealing. I actually make a point of not showing up hungry when I go out for a Chicago deep-dish pizza. It would be torture. To kill time, you eat a salad

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