Bizarre Foods - Chicago
I'm a huge fan of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern (on the Travel Channel). My question is, what are some "bizarre foods" I can get in Chicago? I'm a very adventerous eater. Some things I would LOVE to try are baby squids braised in their own ink, stinky tofu and suckling pig. But I'm up for ANY suggestions. Thanks.
I grew up on the South Side of Chicago until the mid-1950s. Pizza was available in family owned pizzerias before the chains existed, and it was thin crust and crisp. I find thick, chewy crust pizza bizarre. After I graduated from high school, we moved to Berwyn. There was a pizzeria on Cermak Road near Harlem Avenue known as DeVito's that made the best pizza (now a Mexican restaurant). Pizza should be THIN CRUST!!!
T'invio cordialissimi saluti e abbracci! Buon appetito!
A bunch of friends and I once went to a Koran joint in Lincoln fueled by lots of beer for a 3 am pick-me-up. Somehow we were talked into ordering a dish the waitress referred to as "Peoples Soup." Despite the haze of booze that permeated my veins, I recall the soup was unlike anything I've ever eaten. The waitress wasn't able or unwilling to describe the ingredients, but with an eerie smile she insisted it was "Peoples Soup. "With a strange taste of tallow, and white foamy bubbles that floated to the surface, I still wonder what the hell I really ate.
I really don't eat out much as I prefer to cook my own. But here and there I have had my fair share of some ummm diffeernt foods, snake, bear, badger, porcupine, cobra shots (I'll explain later)
Suckling pig is hardly in the "bizarre food" category. You can go to a couiple of places on Argyle St on the north side of Chicago and buy lechon (either Chinese style or filipino style) by the pound or by the pig. We had a half a baby pig for a house warming a long time ago.
Also while there, a couple of the restaurants will serve a tripe soup. Also you can buy live frogs, crabs, various fish and such at the stores there.
Go to a filipino restaurant or and order balut which is a ferment fertile salted duck egg.
I have seen items like canned scopions and bugs for sale online, which I have yet to collect, but I do have on my shelf a bottle of Cobra wine. It has a baby cobra with a black emperor scorpion sewed in it's mouth with a large gingsing root.
I bought the cobra wine because near where I once worked there was a Filipino/Vietnamese restaurant/bar that we would go to after work. Lee the Vietnamese partner had a very large apothecary jar full of Chinese hebals, twigs, leaves, berries, spices, and about 18 cobras, all soaking in vodka. To be a part of our "drinking club" one had to have at least one cobra shot/ Unfortuately Lee sold the place and I do not know where his jar ended up.
And a woman I knew years ago that had many internal problems went to a Doctor in China Town and was given a prescription to make a tea, which had among other things, dried nightcrawlers in it.
Balut is definitely more than just a fertile salt duck egg, it's a duck egg at the very last stage of gestation, where the little critter has bones and feathers. It's a common Filipino street food where it slurped out (bones and all) with broth or vinegar. Just wanted to clarify the details of balut to the OP or it might have been an ugly surprise.
Yes, you are correct of course, since there are three or four 'stages' or versions of the eggs between filipno and Chinese cuisine..
I have to admit that I have yet to indulge in balut, although my ex-wife and daughter (filipinos) love them; and I only recently got past the smell of those little dried fish that they love to fry and have with rice for breakfast. (The smell was like the beaches of rotting alwives in the mid 60's when I used to visit my grandparents in Evanston)
Frontera sometimes has suckling pig as a special. I think it was a special over the summer on Wednesdays. You could call and find out if it's still available.
Sticky Rice on Western has some interesting Thai dishes that include bugs.
I know I've had fermented tofu at various Korean places.
You can go to soul food legend Army and Lou's, and among some great dishes, try your hand at Chitterlings aka chitlins aka wrinkles aka grays.
Army & Lou's
422 E 75th St
Chicago, IL 60619
9am - 10pm
Would an Indian brain masala interest you?
How about eyeball tacos at Maxwell st market on Sundays?