Thursday, March 29, 2018

Baseball back in Chicago, and Sout’ Side plays off a Springpatch delicacy

I know there are the hard-core fanatics who think that going to a ballgame and getting something to eat means ordering nothing more than a bag of peanuts and/or a hot dog. If they really want to splurge, maybe they’ll go for a polish sausage.
A capital take on the 'horseshoe'

Which is why I found it amusing when Major League Baseball conducted a food festival earlier this month in New York, where each of the 30 ball clubs felt compelled to feature what they consider to be a unique item their concessionaires sell at the ballpark.

FOR THE CUBS, the featured food was a hot dog. As in served “Chicago-style” with tomatoes, that glow-in-the-dark pickle relish and sport peppers (and absolutely NO ketchup!!!). Which might offend some sensibilities that the Cubs would try to claim such a common food item as their very own.

But the White Sox may be the ball club that came up with something unique.

As in their featured foot item was the “South Side horseshoe,” a sandwich that is considered a variation of that dining “delight” unique to the Illinois capital city of Springfield.

Personally, I have to admit that during the seven years I worked and lived in Springfield, I only once ate a horseshoe. I didn’t think it much of a big deal. In fact, I think it a sign of the lack of a capital cuisine that THIS is considered the unique dining experience (that and chili, which the locals insist on spelling “chilli” sold at “chilli parlors” that Chicagoans most likely would think of as dives).
White Sox offering up a fancier take on the horseshoe
SO TO SEE that the White Sox are adding to their food menu (albeit only at the concessions stands that service the private boxes – the riff-raff sitting in the allegedly cheap seats won’t have easy access) a horseshoe variation makes me want to chuckle.

Particularly since my comprehension of the White Sox version of the sandwich is that it will have Italian sausage and giardiniera, in addition to the French fries and beer sauce that a Springfield-type horseshoe would have.

I suspect that many a Springpatch-type will look at the White Sox’ take on the horseshoe and dismiss it as high falutin’, and way too overly fancy. Others might think it is tampering with the capital’s attempt at culture and cuisine.
Cubs offer a high-priced hot dog

So will be White Sox be selling a “real” horseshoe at the ballpark this season – beginning a week from Thursday when they have their home opener against the Detroit Tigers?

LIKE I SAID previously, I had a horseshoe once when I lived in Springfield, and what I had was turkey on toasted bread with the fries piled on top and the cheesy beer sauce poured on thick. Hamburger or ham are popular alternatives to turkey.

I know of people who think horseshoes are something special who contend that it’s the beer sauce that makes all the difference between a delicacy and an unhealthy pile of slop.

In the case of the White Sox, they’re supposedly using Modelo-brand beer to create their sauce for the sandwich. Whether that makes a difference, I don’t know. But because Modelo is the “official import beer of the Chicago White Sox,” the ballclub feels compelled to promote it.
Old-school red hots at the ballpark

All I know is it will be amusing if the Springfield horseshoe actually catches on at White Sox games. Or if it winds up being dismissed as yet more evidence of the unsophistication of the Illinois capital city.

FOR I’M SURE it will wind up being more adventurous than the Cubs offering up hot dogs. Even if they use the real Vienna beef brand of wieners, I don’t doubt that the Cubs’ take on a hot dog with everything (“dragged through the garden,” so to speak) will wind up coming off as second-rate to the hot dog one can buy at any corner stand.

Particularly when one compares the dollar or so for a hot dog in the real world, compared to the $6 one will have to pay at Wrigley Field.
One-time star now a sandwich

But ballpark food caters to a captive audience, and we wind up paying the high prices for everything (in my case, $9 for a Minnie Miñoso-branded “Cuban Comet” sandwich) in order to experience the thrill of a competitive ballclub trying to do proud by our city.

Anyway, baseball is back for this season (the White Sox start out in Kansas City, while the Cubs ‘do’ Miami), and I’m bound to try to get out to a few games this season. Sitting down by the foul pole in those cheap – by modern standards – seats, where maybe we can compare the merits of a Sox-style horseshoe.


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