Chicago feels familiar enough to navigate easily, yet unfamiliar, so it’s still exciting— I spent part of a summer there in high school. Myself and some other students from my school stayed in a hostel and took college classes. Searching for the perfect goth lace dress on Belmont, exploring new restaurants in Chinatown, soaking in all the art and skyscrapers— being in that city reminds me of my teenage years.
And the next chapter in my life took me to Chicago, briefly. I’m moving back overseas for a teaching job, and I needed to stop by a consulate before I did. Though I was only staying in Chicago for a day, I decided to search out something I remember loving as a teenager, but haven’t had in years: deep-dish, Chicago style pizza.
(Pizza Papalis in Detroit is wonderful, but Greektown just ain’t Chicago.)
More like pie than pizza, proper Chicago-style pizza is gloriously decadent, full of melty cheese mixed with spinach, tangy pizza sauce and a good, chewy crust. Also, it was yet another food that I’ve had to give up since going gluten-free.
After the early-morning paperwork at the consulate was done, I had all day to track down my prize: Chicago-style pizza I could eat and enjoy.
I found it at Chicago’s Pizza, near the Belmont stop on the L. It took about 30 minutes to cook, as proper pizza in Chicago should— but man, was it worth it. The crust, a blend of chick pea flour and millet, held up under the weight of mozzarella and perfectly seasoned sauce, and tasted wonderful: crispy, like rich grains and the heat of a good oven.
I managed to eat two pieces before I surrendered, and took the rest back in a box. (And I do mean back: I took the rest home in my lunchbag, with an ice pack, on the train. And they made wonderful lunches for several days.) Bonus: they have gluten-free bread that’s served as an appetizer!
Some things had changed: the hostel I had stayed at, with the big smoking lounge where I used to hang out with other world travelers (and where I first started hatching plans about traveling the world) is now newly renovated, with a gleaming elevator and cafeteria and workers who have signs saying which languages they speak. My old hostel has changed— and I suppose that I have as well. (I stowed my pizza in the brand-new fridge while I went to see the Magritte exhibit at the art museum.)
So: here’s to old memories and making new ones. I will be posting more often, as I embark on the next chapter in my life.