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Each with its own culinary tradition

Illinois

Wrecking ball can’t topple memories of the old Italian neighborhood

Italian-American author Tina De Rosa published a semi-autobiographical novel titled “Paper Fish.” In it, she chronicled the experiences of growing up in an Italian neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. De Rosa wrote her book in 1980, when her childhood neighborhood no longer existed. Years earlier, the city had demolished it as part of a mid-century …

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Translating “cheesecake” into Polish

When you think of Polish food, pierogies and kielbasa may come to mind. But Liisa Ecola’s Chicago grandmother broke the mold: she is remembered for her cheesecake. Large numbers of Poles began arriving in Chicago in the early 19th century when unrest rocked their homeland. Today, they are among the city’s three largest European ethnic …

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Pour Two Brothers’ red rye, put on the (Chicago-style) dog

It’s daunting to choose just one brew to represent Illinois, our nation’s fifth most-populous state. A veritable beer-soaked wonderland, it boasts an abundance of fantastic, family-owned breweries and enough delicious suds to keep the entire country in fine spirits. Illinois has America’s longest brewing history outside the 13 colonies, according to “American Breweries II” author …

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Father-daughter brownie love story

My dad and I love desserts. We’re suckers for ice cream, Bananas Foster and all things toffee-flavored. But we could do without chocolate. It’s just not in our flavor profile. Except for brownies. Something about the moist, chewy, flaky dessert just hits our sweet-tooth spot. As a little girl growing up in the northern Chicago …

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Horseshoe Sandwich Springfield’s other claim to fame

Ask people from Illinois what Springfield is famous for, and they will most likely tell you it’s the state capital and the former home of Abraham Lincoln. Ask people from Springfield what their city is famous for, and they’ll agree with the rest of Illinois, but they’ll add on the horseshoe sandwich. While it might …

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Food to remember from Charlie Trotter

When I heard of chef Charlie Trotter’s death, I remembered one of the best dinners I’ve ever had. Friends in Chicago were celebrating a big anniversary and had gotten a table in the kitchen at Charlie Trotter’s restaurant – open only a few years – that was the talk of the food world. They asked …

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Pizza picks: NY or Chicago? Depends how you slice it

For a country so close to the continent, you might think England would have better pizza. Alas, no. British pizza runs the gamut from a yellow sponge covered with ketchup and Cheetos to an old gym sock soaked in brackish red water and crowned with melted Styrofoam. So, eight years ago, when I moved with …

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