I don't know why but whenever someone in CA found out that I was moving to Chicago they always said, "Well, at least there'll be really good food there."
I don't know.
Call it my SoCal loyalty, call it my locale arrogance, call it what you will but I think CA fare runs circles around Chicago food (on the whole). Mexican food? CA: winner. Korean food? CA: winner. Japanese food? CA: winner. Taiwanese food? CA: winner (especially because I can't FIND a Taiwanese place to eat in Chicago). Vietnamese food? Haven't had it yet but Mark says, CA: winner. (Apparently I eat a lot of Asian food hahaha) I could go on and on.....
HOWEVER, there are some things that Chicago does well...Hot dog? Chicago: winner (with the exception of Pink's because what they serve I would call deliciousness on a bun and not just a "hot dog"). I got to admit that in the world of regular hot dogs I prefer a Chicago style one above the rest. Love that pickle, celery salt, poppy seed bun.... But the key ingredient for me is the Sport Pepper. It was unlike any pepper that I had had in CA. Small, narrow, crunchy, great flavor, and good heat but not too much. No, they're not like the small yellow chillies you get at Tommy's, The Hat, or a hole-in-the-wall burger joint (GOD I'd kill to eat Tommy's right now). No, it's not a pepperoncini or giardiniera either and don't you dare say a Tabasco Pepper. It's a sport pepper and unless the jar says, "Chicago style Sport Pepper" it's a fake. The last time I visited Mark before we were married we scoured the markets in IL for the prized Sport Peppers and we couldn't find it (I tired in CA too and failed miserably). But 3 weeks ago, while perusing the aisles of Valli Produce Market for the first time we found a jar that specifically said, "SPORT PEPPERS."
YESSSS!!!11!!1!!1 Victory, sweet sweet victory!
Now, what exactly is a 'Sport Pepper'? I have no idea. There are thousands of pepper varieties and under the list of ingredients it just said, "Peppers." LOL, maybe it's a secret because even online I couldn't get a straight answer as to what constituted a genuine "Chicago style Sport Pepper." I have no idea what it is exactly and why it's so effing hard to find in stores but what I do know is that I love them and I can eat it with nearly everything. I also have no idea if there's a particular brand that is better than others but I say, "Love the one you're with."