My visit to Chicago didn’t get off to a good start and I found myself suffering a head-cold within my first few days of landing. If there was a perfect place to be stricken with a cold though, it was where I was staying thanks to my great hosts. I was collected from the airport and put up in my own room by Gareth, an old friend of my mum’s and while recuperating made good use of his excellent home theater. The start of my stay was therefore largely spent watching movies such as Casino in-doors, whilst fog and rain draped itself over the city.
When I had finally recovered and made it out into the city, I did get a good opportunity to check out what Chicago has to offer. There was of course the obligatory viewing of the Chicago bean, a giant reflective sculpture that attracts tourists like flies to honey. My first trip into the city also happened to coincide with a large parade, celebrating Memorial Day and was a great display of American patriotism. Since Chicago has such a large number of museums and art galleries on hand, I felt obliged to check out one at least, so spent some time in the Art Institute of Chicago where I came across perhaps the most well recognised American painting, American Gothic – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Grant_DeVolson_Wood_-_American_Gothic.jpg.
Further time in the city was spent checking out a few of the bars where I quickly made friends including some locals and a couple of English girls, Harriet and Kirstie, who were on a road-trip across the States. Since I’ve arrived in America, I think there’s barely been a city where I haven’t had a bartender or local shout me a drink and Chicago was no exception that night. Kasey’s Tavern, whilst certainly a bit divey, comes highly recommended due to the friendly staff, close proximity to one of the only hostels in Chicago city and a good atmosphere. As well, I continued my hot-dog tour of the States, eating a authentic Chicago Dog which specifically must have yellow mustard, white onions, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle, tomato and a pickled green chilli (or sport pepper as they’re known in the U.S.). Also important to note that an authentic Chicago Dog must have no ketchup!
My host Gareth, something of a gourmet cook, had a very well stocked kitchen, therefore I took it upon myself to cook a curry, completely from scratch, which I had never done before. I tackled an Indian classic, Vindaloo (using chicken instead of the usual lamb), complete with Raita, Burnt Onions and Basmati rice. The dish turned out well, though was a bit on the mild side with respect to the heat, but all in all made for an impressive display and a great way for me to repay the hospitality of Gareth and his family. Later on, we also enjoyed drinking some scotch and smoking cigars outside.
Last but not least, I also paid a visit to the adorable Elaine Maller, the best-friend of my Grandmother Adele who has known her since the two were in high school together in Chicago back at the beginning of last century! It was great visiting with her and her daughter and hearing about the mischief she and my Grandmother got up to back in the day. My trip to Chicago while definitely far too short and somewhat hampered by bad rain and my cold, but overall I found Chicago an excellent city with plenty to offer.