Taste Of Chicago Media Roundup: Delightful, De…Heavyful?

It’s late Monday afternoon and the Taste Of Chicago is in its fourth day already! We thought we’d take a look at what’s been written about it so far, and it seems like the lion’s share of ink has been spilled by the Tribune, via the Stew. This is really their area.

• The Chicagoist had a preview piece this past Friday, but the content ended up getting overshadowed by commenters being mean to Chuck Sudo over a spelling error. Jeez!

• The Reader’s Food Chain forgot to mention the Taste until this special Heads Up extra post from last Thursday (still in plenty enough time, though). The post reminds us about the 800 people who were sickened by Pars Cove’s hummus at last year’s Taste. Come to think of it, watch those tomatoes!

• Kelly the Culinarian is an enthusiastic proponent of the Taste, dispensing good advice about bringing cash (credit card lines are long), not stopping at the first ticket booth you see (the interior ones are less crowded), bringing your own water (bottles are expensive), and not buying alcoholic beverages (they’re a poor value). We think you should bring two bottles of water, but the second one should actually contain vodka. No one will be the wiser!

• MrsJ2004 had a few other observations that we haven’t seen elsewhere: the Budweiser Clydesdales were on display (better catch them now before the Belgians turn them into tartare), and the line for free slices of Eli’s one ton cheesecake was two blocks — perhaps a quarter of a mile! — long. People are really bad at making time/money calculations when something free is involved…but on the other hand, this particular cheesecake is a Tradition, which often perverts rational behavior.

But the Tribune’s At Play team is really the star of the Taste’s media show, with eight blog posts on the festival in the past few days, not to mention last week’s entire At Play section. Reactions and retractions abound: the team has running, booth-by-booth commentary about each dish*; Monica Eng apologized for some recommendations she made once she actually tasted the stuff, and then provides some helpful hints on how to conduct oneself (by way of having made these mistakes herself); Chris Borrelli summed up all the reasons why people generally avoid the Taste; intern Michael Pasternak has a nice human interest story about the antacid booths like Tums and Ultra Xcid lining the upset stomach of the Taste (fun fact: we have never once experienced heartburn!).

But nobody tops Phil Vettel, right? For two minutes and thirty-eight glorious seconds, Vettel tours around the Taste wearing a hat cam that gives us a “Phil’s-eye view” of his lunch, a perspective we only wish was permanently accessible to us. The truly sparkling moment comes when Phil takes a bite of his mixed berry sorbet at Canady le Chocolatier, the squeals of delight betraying an afternoon of scarfing greasy, heavy, crappy food in the heat and humidity. Enjoyable throughout.

And finally, while it’s impossible to say what brilliant, unfettered mind concocted this, we’re nevertheless thrilled with the unholy mashup of the Talking Heads’ “Once In A Lifetime,” a poetic response to the rigors of the Taste, and the specter of Phil Vettel, choir person. It is, by far, the most successful piece of media inspired by Taste ‘08.

[Photo: crayfish boil from Lagniappe, via corsi photo, who took dozens of great photos of the Taste]

* Like with the Chicagoist post, the real story here is in the comments. Three different people asked what “meh” means, as it’s used repeatedly in the reviews. Phil Vettel keeps his head and responded with “Meh? ‘It’s a verbal shoulder shrug. It’s not great, it’s not awful, it’s…meh.’” We would have gone on a tirade about three-letter Scrabble-valid words and then executed all the offending commenters. Feh!


Taste Of Chicago Media Roundup: Delightful, De…Heavyful?