The first tastes of spring may be marked by ramps, smelts, or even food trucks these days, but for thousands of years, for billions of Chinese around the world—including the diaspora in Chicago—they're heralded with the aroma of incense.
How about you call your mom to remind her for once its Passover and Easter this week? Non-observant? Join me at Soup & Bread Wednesday—or plan ahead and get tickets now for the Ground Up Chicago Spring Fundraiser at Spacca Napoli next Monday. Wherever you go, in the voice of my mom, "Just eat!"
Monday, April 2
The Illinois Mycological Association (aka Mushroom Club) presents "Stinkhorn Mushrooms (and a Little Bit About Morels)" by mushroom expert Dr. Michael Kuo. Please note that the Club meets this month at the Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens in Palos Heights. "As usual, if you have any mushroom questions or found a fungus you want help identifying, bring it along and we’ll help," say mushroom clubbers.
But if one local craft doughnut maker has his way, we'll surpass them all.
Meet Arise Doughnuts.
And local means local. Every single local, seasonal, sustainable, organic, and ethical ingredient—milk, eggs, butter, flour, sugar, salt, oil, yeast—is not only locally sourced, but made in house when possible. The butter, churned.
In a dystopian fictional future, kids hunt the woods to feed their families in The Hunger Games. But in the present, "Do Children Harvest Your Food?" So asks Helene York at The Atlantic, to mark the 13th annual National Farmworker Awareness Week, "a week of action for students and community members to raise awareness about farmworker issues on our campuses and in our communities." Sobering thoughts, I know, to start the week. But there will also be beer, cocktails and inspiring sustainable urban farming in our near future.
Monday, March 26
Three Aces chef Matt Troost cooks for The Dinner Party at the Mayne Stage this month, featuring MCA curator Naomi Beckwith, Sons of Blues musician Billy Branch, and Poetry Slam founder Marc Smith.
What's in a name? That which we call a ramp, by any other name would smell as...stinky? But that's not quite it. The wild spring onion, Allium tricoccum, after which Chicago is believed to be named (though that's disputed) is often described as having an aroma like onions, garlic, or leeks—which are close. But ramps in fact have a kind of deep pungency you can almost taste. I found a patch (above), and many others, in the woods this morning. I picked a few leaves and now, every time I open my fridge, their wild aroma wafts out to remind me they're there.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of National Corndog Day, a movable feast celebrated not on a specific date, but the first Saturday of March Madness—which refers to college basketball, for those who don't follow that religion. It might seem strange to devote a winter day to an iconic food of summer state and county fairs (and it almost feels like it out there), until you realize that most corndogs now are pre-made, frozen, and season-less. That is, until a recent corndog renaissance led locally by one man: Gus Paschalis, who is Wiener and Still Champion.
But let's back up here. Corndog crafting is more complicated than it might seem. There's the batter, usually from a pre-made mix too, as well as the hot dog to consider. We might like the snap of natural casing in our Chicago-style dogs, but that resistance is undesirable with a delicately cornbread encased dog.
All our talk about pink slime brought up a lot of questions—but what about answers? This week we can discuss it with the experts at the Good Food Festival and chef/author Jennifer McLagan, who wrote the new book Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal. Then from pink to green, St. Patrick's Day in Chicago means one thing: green beer. But now with our local breweries, that means in color and craft.
Thursday, March 15
The three-day Good Food Festival at UIC Forum kicks off with a financing conference—because sustainability means financially too: "Food producers and farmers interested in growing their business should attend the Good Food Financing Conference to learn about funding opportunities and connect with banks and investors interested in financing growth."
I've been planning for months to celebrate National Pie Day today—which happens to fall on Pi Day—by making floral pies. But with unseasonably warm temperatures near 80 degrees, I didn't want to bake. Plus it was a good excuse to visit a slice of Hoosier heaven in the city.
Or more like a sliver actually.