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Archive for the ‘Local Food – St. Louis’ Category

July 8-9: Saint Louis, MO

My friend Erin and I visited the fourth largest metropolis in the Midwest: St. Louis.  We had a great time there, and made sure to snag a pulled pork sandwich at the famous Memphis-style BBQ hotspot, Pappy’s Smokehouse.

We didn’t know until we arrived, but Adam from Man vs. Food (Season 1, Episode 14) has had a challenge here; it was probably one of his tastiest.  The line is usually a long wait, so come prepared.  Here’s the episode (starts at 6:40):

We also toured the Anheuser-Busch Brewery (founded in 1852) at the company’s headquarters.

The historic six-story Brew House (built in 1891) originally served as a train depot.

To stay in business during Prohibition, Anheuser-Busch produced Bevo, a nonalcoholic, cereal-based beverage whose symbol is a fox, brewer’s yeast (the symbol for which was an elephant), ice cream, and refrigerated trucks. The Bevo packaging plant (built in 1917) is on site.  The name “Bevo” was coined from the word “beverage” and the Slavic language word for beer “pivo”, and was pronounced “Bee-vo.”  Read this great article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for a year-by-year account of the company’s survival through Prohibition.

Erin and me in the Clydesdales' stables! The Budweiser Clydesdales tradition began in 1933 when August A. Busch Jr. presented his father with the first team of Clydesdales to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition.

The brewery’s sheer size was impressive, and the tasting room at the end was welcome on such a hot day.  The tour offers complimentary beer at its conclusion.  I had two glasses of Shock Top with a bag of pretzels.

In the gift shop, they had these two informative posters about ales and lager (so helpful for keeping track of beer types):

Ales from light to dark: Belgian style witbier, Hefeweizen, American wheat ale, Blonde ale, Pale ale, Porter, and Stout. Enlarge for the descriptions!

Lager from light to dark: American lager, American light lager, Pilsner, Amber lager, Marzen/ Oktoberfest, and Bock.

On Saturday morning, Erin and I hit the Soulard Market in the French Lafayette neighborhood.  Officially established since before the Civil War as a farmer’s market (and unofficially since as early as 1779), the Soulard Market is a great place to get exotic meats like ox tail and wood for smoking your BBQ, among the delicious pastries, produce, and non-food item vendors.  It’s in permanent buildings, so you can’t miss it if you go.

After spending hours exploring it, the City Museum yielded the most unexpected food finds in St. Louis.  On the third floor in a section called “Beatnik Bob’s,” I found some of the creepiest U.S. carnival and roadside attraction exhibits.

In this area, they have the “Corn Dogs Through The Ages” exhibit, where I happened to snap a picture of the seminal work below.  It depicts the importance of holding a corndog to assert authority in Indiana town halls during the Great Depression:

The text reads: "In rural Indiana, during the Great Depression, in order for a person to speak with authority at a town meeting, that individual was required to hold aloft a corndog in the right hand as a 'symbol of authority.' - H. Ploof, 1937"

A plaque next to it also read:

#9. RURAL SYMBOL OF AUTHORITY.  1937 HOMER PLOOFE, KOKOMO, INDIANA.  Little information exists about the artist, Mr. Ploofe.  Apparently a hobo who drifted about the rural Midwest during the Depression, he carved fancy bird houses, feeders, whirligigs, and a few works with political overtones, all owned by a woman in Kokomo, Leena Ginster who appears to have been a sweetheart of this restless soul.  The facts of his statement have been verified and one scholar notes: this custom evolved from rituals of the Kiowas Indians of the region.  They brandished corn husk wands and danced in a circle until one of their members was seized by a powerful vision (induced by the corn wand) and was led to speak prophetic utterances.

Among other artifacts found in construction digs from around the city was this curious pretzel flask.  It’s genius.

Pretzel flask from North St. Louis.

We also rode to the top of the arch!  Overall, the trip was a success.

August 12-14: Springfield, IL

My mom and I visited the state capitol during the Illinois State Fair.  We tried a bunch of different foods, including: jalapeno poppers, Kandy melons (company from Mississippi), 17th Street Bar & Grill Memphis-style barbecue (location in Murphysboro, IL), and FINALLY: a fried Twinkie from Fried What (established in 2002, company from Dallas, Texas).

I’m not sure how much of what we ate really embraced the state of the Illinois State Fair, but some of the things we saw sure did, including this cow sculpted of butter:

The butter cow has been an attraction at the Illinois State Fair since 1922.

Mom and I also explored a diner on Route 66 known for its corndogs (I guess the Midwest can’t get enough corndogs?).  The Cozy Dog Drive-In is worth a one-time, nostalgic meal to absorb the old America; then keep driving.

The founder's wife drew the characters of the Cozy-Dog emblem. So cute!

Thought for the week: “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.”President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969)


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