On the Road….

For some people, when they travel, they look for the familiar in a land that is unfamiliar to them. SOOOO many Americans seek out McD’s in Europe, believe it or not (I will admit they have the cleanest toilets in certain areas of Europe – been there, done that). I, on the other hand, decidedly do NOT – I strive for the new and different!

I recently returned from one of my favorite cities, Chicago; I attend a conference there every July. If you have never been there, let me tell you it is great….in the summer! The winters there are too cold for me, but the summer there is special. Downtown has lovely planted garden areas, it’s a great walking town AND there is fab food everywhere you go. I have been to Chicago every year for more than 10 years for this conference, and each year I try to find someplace new to eat. This year was no exception. While I am delving into the city, and striving for the unfamiliar, there are several attendees at the conference routinely doing the same things every year, sticking to the familiar and tried and true. Why is that?

I think I have it figured out! Let’s use Chicago as the example. For people in rural areas, they don’t have a lot of the “trendy” chains – like Cheesecake Factory – so they want to go there, because “everyone they know” says it’s great. People from certain metropolitan areas don’t have Chicago specialties – like Giordano’s pizza and Portillo’s Italian Beef – so they want to go there. Still others find comfort in routine, when everything else they are experiencing can’t be controlled or they over load on foreign concepts, they stick with what they know. And then of course there are the “unadventuresome” – yes, I just made up that word – you know, the burgers & fries, steak & potato, mac & cheese people (because they know what it tastes like).

As I am none of the above, where does that leave me? I do have fave places that I find in every city I go to, and Chicago is no exception, and I try to hit those places while I am there, but I don’t need a routine and I rarely eat in national chains (not at all if I can avoid it – that topic may be my next blog…hmmm). I am nothing if not an adventuresome eater. Because I am unwilling to eat the same things on the road that I can eat at home, and I am unwilling to settle for second rate, I often find myself dining solo. The masses don’t see the boldness of new, unknown choices as a beautiful thing – for some it is scary, some are just plain cheap, and still others would blanch to see “bone marrow” on the menu!

So this trip I found TWO new places and had wonderful things in each and good company for both meals. Sometimes I CAN encourage people to stretch that comfort zone…

This week’s Food Memories include Nutella Crepes for dessert at Crepe Bistro on Wells, a ridiculously good Shrimp Burger at Public House on State St., and a solitary, but not lonely, lunch at The Purple Pig.

This week’s pic is from last year – me with the Sour Cherry Pie from Ed Debevic’s in Chicago. Until next week, go out and make your own Food Memories.