2013.03.13 Chicago on the fly nets headless broccoli

Written by David Green.


Except for flying in and out on a layover, it’s been a really long time since we’ve been to Chicago. Maddie has lived there since October, but this past weekend was the first time we’ve visited her.

She suggested it would be a good time for us to come since one of her two roommates would be traveling in Brazil and we could use her room. We’re cheap travelers, generally only visiting places where we have people to stay with, so it was a case of strike while the iron is hot.

Plus, Maddie’s travel trajectory has her pointed toward California where she plans to work at an organic farm for six months starting in June. I find it exceedingly amusing that she who loves warm places, and almost went to college in Florida, ended up in the Windy City during its coldest months. But, man ol’ man, I can see how she has easily endured the weather to be ensconced in the splendor of the city. 

We spent a late night, a full day and a morning and early afternoon keeping up with her. We had no plans; we hadn’t even done our usual sites-to-see-in-a-city research. I thought it would be fun to visit The Bean (Cloud Gate) sculpture in Millennium Park because I’d seen it in photos of friends on Facebook, and I wanted to eat good restaurant food, but beyond that, we formed our plans on the fly.

The guiding force of our approach to sightseeing was the chance to win $25 tickets to see “The Book of Mormon” at the Bank of America Theater. The theater has a drawing at noon and at 6 p.m. in which you can win one or two tickets. About 20 tickets are available. 

Maddie figured if only one of us won the drawing for two tickets, David and I should go to it since she’d have future opportunities to win the drawing. I thought that was crazy since we had come to Chicago to see her, not “The Book of Mormon.” I thought it made more sense for either of us parents to go with her; and not to be greedy, thought I should attend with her since David would probably have more fun people watching and visiting obscure places than sitting in a dark theater.

So, Maddie set about making plans with David in mind. Possibilities included Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, and the Chicago Cultural Center. It’s one of the nicest things about an iPhone, or any smartphone, the ability to look things up instantly.

After a way-too-lengthy discussion on where to eat (the choices are so overwhelming), we set out for Chinatown. I don’t remember how Maddie knew to take us to Lao Sze Chuan, but it was an excellent choice.

The host, the gruffest-voiced Chinese man I’ve ever encountered, ordered us around like a Mafia gangster. He gave us a number and told us the wait would be 15-20 minutes. Maddie and David went off to explore while I chose to stay. Two minutes later he announced our table was ready.

In that two minutes waiting in the entry, I read a review posted on the window that raved about the chicken dish, Tony’s Chicken with Three Chili, and decided that’s what I would have. 

Maddie and David decided to share a dish so we wouldn’t be saddled with leftovers while sightseeing. They chose Chinese Garlic Broccoli, which, coupled with my chicken, we figured would be a well-rounded meal for all of us.

I almost burst out laughing when their broccoli arrived. Somehow I thought it included tofu, but it was simply a bunch of broccoli and garlic. And it wasn’t your normal looking broccoli—it was all stems and leaves, no heads.

“This looks like what I put in the compost when I make broccoli,” observed David. 

“It looks like they used the broccoli heads in another dish,” he said, gesturing to a dish of broccoli and beef on the table next to us, separated by only six inches.

“I thought it was prepared in Chinese style,” said David.

“No, it’s Chinese broccoli,” said Maddie, the former picky eater who now knows more about food than her parents.

Still, it was very good and my chicken was divinely delicious.

Taking stock a day later of our short trip, the visual that comes to mind is an open mouth. My open mouth.

Eating at the Chinese restaurant. Gaping in awe at the Chicago Cultural Center stained glass domes. Laughing at the comedy show. Jabbering about what an amazing city this is.

Not to be disloyal to New York, but Chicago—it’s my kind of town.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016