Monday, August 31, 2015

What I Ate Over My Summer Vacation

I'm slightly down at the mouth as my one-month summer vacation comes to a close today, already reflecting wistfully on these passing days of leisure which kicked off beautifully with a weird and wonderful adventure: three days solo at Lollapalooza. I saw Paul McCartney, Sturgil Simpson, Father John Misty, The War on Drugs, Alabama Shakes, Strand of Oaks, Bully, The Tallest Man on Earth, and (my 16-year-old son's recommendation) Odesza. Probably other stuff too, I already forget. It was hot and it was grueling, a couple of my blisters are still healing, and there were way way too many people there who didn't know how to manage their highs.

But I loved Lolla.

I loved being able to hear so much music in so little time. I loved the zombie apocalypse feel of the festival, thousands of people tromping down wide city streets ordinarily lined with cars. I loved the VIP lounges (thank you dear John Strohm!!) where they had--no kidding--massage tables set up, not to mention all the pineapple coconut water, iced coffee, Red Bull, and mineral water you could drink, gratis. Plus the hottest commodity of all: shade.

Which brings me to what I maybe loved most of all: the food.

The food at Lollapalooza, "curated" by Graham Eliot ("can you curate a corn dog?" I asked my friend Neil), was fantastic. Here are a few highlights.

My first bao bun ever. 

Tamale, black beans, and deconstructed elote.

"Hey," said the twenty-something girl standing next to me during Paul McCartney's set, "you're drinking magical mystery juice!" I nodded, I couldn't talk, I was basically sobbing during Sir Paul's entire set--a response I hadn't reckoned on at all.

This lobster corn dog was the most delicious thing I ate all summer. The soundtrack to its consumption (Sturgil Simpson) also lived right up to the hype.

Frozen Mango Kefir. A really really good idea.

Cold sesame soba noodles. This was familiar, like eating at home for me. Enjoyed during Bully's set, which also felt very familiar.

Lolla was intense, All Summer in Three Days. Even in the midst of it all, though, there were secret, quiet spots with no food, drink, music, or people, where a middle-aged woman could recharge for a minute.

Lollapalooza turned out to be the perfect launch to a month full of Chicago fun: Cubs at Wrigley, Veggie Bingo at The Hideout, and plenty of afternoons on the beach in Evanston. I've lived here for exactly five years, now, and this summer I gave my heart all the way over to this amazing place. There's no place like home. Particularly if home has lobster corn dogs.