Genealogy and Food

I really expected to post more frequently than I have.  Things get in the way.  Some times we have no coverage…sometimes it gets late…sometimes I get lazy…a lot of times I get lazy…more often than not I get to planning the next day’s adventures and find that it’s time for bed.  I could tell you I promise to write more often, but I don’t know if that’s true.  I will try, though.

We’re now in Chicago and have been since Tuesday.  We’re actually in a campground about an hour and a half from the loop but that’s apparently the closest you can get.  We’ll have the same trouble in NYC when we get there.  The place isn’t bad, just not great.  Add to that this is one of the worst seasons they’ve had here for mosquitoes, the temps have been in the 90′s with attendant humidity and it’s not tempting to spend much time outside.  That leads to a bad impression of the place.

I spent Wednesday and Thursday in the Newberry Library.  For those unfamiliar, the Newberry is one of those genealogical and family history meccas, especially for working on Chicago and midwest families.  I had some luck going through old Chicago Tribunes and 1850-1870′s city directories that solve part of one of my ongoing genealogical puzzles.

That comes on the heels of a day last week that I spent in the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Library in Madison going through the Draper Manuscripts where I found some interesting story material on a few ancestors.  It was my first time actually looking through the Draper stuff.  It’s not as easy as it looks since most of the manuscripts are handwritten, 19th century stuff.

I actually look like a researcher…sort of ruggedly handsome.

Enough about that boring stuff I hear you say…what about the food?  We have been trying to sample local stuff that was traditional or endemic to the area.  To that end we tried three different varieties of pasties.  They’re all about the same…ground meat and potatoes in a crescent shaped crust, not unlike an empanada.  Some have rutabaga added, some have onions, there’s even a breakfast variety. I won’t be needing another one of those for awhile.

We went to a Friday night fish fry, which is sort of a tradition in Wisconsin and Michigan.  All-you-can-eat whitefish, coated in cornmeal and deep-fried.

Most come with boiled red potatoes…I had fries (can’t get enough fried food…it keeps your coat shiny).  The fish was good…the beans not so much and the salad bar was sad.

We’ve tried a few different kinds of burgers.  I told you about the great burger we had in Superior, WI at the Anchor Bar and Grill.  We then stopped at Mihm’s Charcoal Grill just outside Appleton, WI for the butter burger.  This is like any other burger except it’s slathered with butter.

We also had the deep-fried cheese curds.  My coat has never been so shiny.  Then yesterday we went to the Billy Goat Tavern for the cheeseburger of John Belushi and SNL fame.

They really do push the cheeseburger (“have the double, it’s best,” she says) and then they ask you if you’d like chips (no fries) and after ordering, you’re told to move down.  It’s almost exactly like the SNL skit.

We had lunch/breakfast at an iconic Chicago place near Union Station, Lou Mitchell’s where they give you warm donut holes while you wait.  I like it because all the eggs are double-yoked.

That’s my skillet hidden behind Donna’s huge salad.

We’ve had our Chicago dog at our favorite place, Mustard’s Last Stand across the parking lot from Ryan Field at Northwestern.

We’ve had an Italian beef sandwich at Al’s #1.  They are quite good, if a little messy.  But the find of the trip so far was across the street from Al’s, Mario’s Italian Ice.  These are shaved ice, almost like sno-cone type ice that’s been drenched with slightly sweetened lemon juice and chunks of lemon peel.  Oh. My. God.

The greatest thing in the history of the world.  I might exaggerate a bit, but not much.  It could be the fact that it was 100 in the shade, but still, we went back the next day for another, this time with fresh peach in one and cantaloupe in the other.

We’ll be back there before we leave.

4 Responses to “Genealogy and Food”
  1. Llinda 14 August 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    The Italian Ice looks as good as pie. I’ve been watching the weather and thinking about you guys melting. I look forward to seeing what goodies you found in all the research spots.

  2. Mel 16 August 2010 at 8:36 am #

    What was the puzzle that was solved going through the directories??

  3. donna 17 August 2010 at 4:25 am #

    Yes, Durry did leave out that detail. My great-grandfather Hartmann lived in Chicago before moving to Oakland. His first wife died here, leaving him with a young daughter, Emma. Durry found her obit, their address, his father……

  4. Mel 17 August 2010 at 10:22 am #

    Good! Glad he’s solving your puzzles (and not ours!)

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