As has been observed many times by many people, one of the things that makes Chicago such a livable city is the presence of Green Space. Anyone who has lived in a city without such a decentralized verdant network of public space can truly appreciate the way that Chicago is set up. One of my favorite uses of this public green space is the Farmers Market, of which there are a large number and I believe there are more every year.
Of these, my favorite is the Logan Square Farmers Market, which I have had a very good time performing at over the past year with my friend, the Tap Dancing Sensation “Hotfoot” Annie Peacenik. Having performed at, and occasionally being asked to leave, a number of other markets, I feel that the atmosphere in Logan Square ranks highest for friendliness and a feeling of community. The market is located on the edge of the green area of one of the boulevards that radiate from the locus of Logan Square, and in the past year an interesting, semi-unofficial extension of the market has sprouted up in that green space. Picnickers mingle with people selling antiques, semi-precious junk, and even 25 cent “great” backrubs, which I believe is the most economical rate you will find in the city.
One thing I very much like is to drink a coffee near the lamp post in the public square at the heart of Lincoln Square. It is a very beautiful old fashioned lamp post that was given to the community of Lincoln Square by one some Germanic city in Europe. It now sports a rather ugly “keep off” sign that is meant to discourage children and myself from climbing on it. The lamp post looks over the square with a protective eye allowing the chalk drawing children, gossiping mothers, banjo toting Old Town School students, and myself to enjoy each other and the space with a sense of ease that is lacking in places with less magnificent lamp posts.
When I find the time, which recently has meant not very often, I make pasta from scratch. The sensation of mixing farina tipo “00” with riced boiled potatoes for gnocchi, or grainy semolina with water and just a little bit of olive oil (you really don’t need much) is unique and wonderful. The sight of these magical, ancient feeling morsels drying in your kitchen is awe inspiring. But the feelings of accomplishment and pride from serving hand made pasta, which tastes better than any other pasta you can find, to your friends is beyond description. It’s much easier than you think to do, and I encourage you to try it, and then to invite me to dinner.
One of the things I really appreciate about Chicago is the availability of good beer at reasonable prices. The Bad Apple in North Center has a lovely selection, including beers from the truly local Half Acer Brewery, also located in North Center. Their tart and refreshing “Daisy Cutter” is a delight at any time of the day or night, and the taste of their biscuity and floating “Gossamer” is one that I will not forget soon. If you like their beer as much as I do, it might be worth it to get a “Frequent Growler Card.” The mere fact that such a thing exists delights me.
Another good way to survive the winters is Bikram Yoga at “Ohm on the Range” in North Center. Hot, hard, and cleansing, it will cure what ails you, especially if what ails you is an inability to reach your toes.