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Hi all,

Please join us on Sunday August 10 at 10am when we will tour the Maxwell Street Market, one of Chicago's truly distinctive culinary and cultural treasures. Even better, we'll have none other than our own David Hammond to lead us. As many of you already know, David is an expert not only about the Maxwell Street Market and its history but also about Mexican regional cuisine. His 6-part "Beyond the Burrito" series, which appeared in The Reader, Chicago's alternative newspaper, is a fantastic resource on the regional cuisines of Mexico -- and where prime examples of these cuisines can be found throughout Chicagoland. Having DH at the helm will make the experience particularly enjoyable and informative, as he will provide context for much of what we'll see and taste on our tour.

We will begin at 10 am sharp by meeting at the White Palace Grill, which is located at 1159 S. Canal St. The tour should take about 3 hours and will consist of plenty of walking. It's a rain or shine event and of course, admission is free. We'll have all sorts of opportunities to buy food and beverages (and tube socks) from the local vendors during the tour. No set meal will be arranged but the eating opportunities will be vast, excellent and varied.

While it is a few of years old, Hammond and some of his friends assembled a video record of the Maxwell Street Market, which can be viewed by clicking here: Gorilla Gourmet: Maxwell Street Mexican.

Additionally, the aforementioned pieces (and more), penned by Mr. Hammond, on Mexico's regional cuisine can be found by following these links:

Mexican Regional Cuisine Index: http://dchammond.com/index.php?id=6

Two Takes on Yucatecan Cuisine = http://www.chicagoreader.com/features/stor...aurants/070316/

This should be an interesting, delicious and inexpensive way to spend a summer Sunday in Chicago. We hope you can join us.

=R=
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I can't imagine a better way to experience Maxwell Street. Please save a spot for me. I'm planning to ride my bike down so hopefully there is some bike parking near by. Thank you thank you for arranging this!
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Myles and Liam, having discovered the existence of bargain Pokemon cards at Maxwell Street (Myles even tried bargaining for them last week, that's my boy), are eager to join Uncle David next weekend.

I guess that means I will be too!
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Mike G wrote:Myles and Liam, having discovered the existence of bargain Pokemon cards at Maxwell Street (Myles even tried bargaining for them last week, that's my boy), are eager to join Uncle David next weekend.

I guess that means I will be too!


The guy who runs that stand is a good guy, friendly and helpful. My son was there many a time in his pokemon phase.
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Hellodali wrote:I'm planning to ride my bike down so hopefully there is some bike parking near by.


You might find something closer, but I know for certain that there's bike parking in the lower level parking lot of Whole Foods. I can't imagine they police bikes the way they do cars in that lot, so it may be OK to lock up there for the tour.
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Mike G wrote:Myles and Liam, having discovered the existence of bargain Pokemon cards at Maxwell Street (Myles even tried bargaining for them last week, that's my boy), are eager to join Uncle David next weekend.


I actually ran into Myles last weekend at the market; he was very involved with his bargain purchase. Me, I'm still kicking myself for not putting in a bid on what I believe was an original Salvador Dali (frame right):

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Make my RSVP a +1 as my BF is looking forward to joining us.
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Add me in, +2 - and we'll be stopping by the Pokemon guy's stand...
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Hi! Count me and a +1 in as well :D
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Bummer. I already have plans for that day. Sure hope this isn't the only time there will be an LTH gathering on Maxwell Street.
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Cynthia wrote:Bummer. I already have plans for that day. Sure hope this isn't the only time there will be an LTH gathering on Maxwell Street.


I would be willing to wager that you could pick any random Sunday and run into more than a few LTHers at Maxwell Street Market.
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Steve Z.

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D.Hamm-

I am a possible attendee this Sunday, maybe with a friend. If I'm not at WP by 10, then I got tied up with something else. (But I regrettably missed this event last year, so I will try my darndest to make it this year!)

[I, too, will be coming by bike - I think I will park it around WP Grill; maybe Whole Foods.]

For any attendees who will be coming by car - I can't say exactly what the traffic will be like @ 10 am, but I've been in this area at various times in the past, and the traffic can be daunting (which is why I'm riding my bike). You might want to allow extra time if coming by car.
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aschie30 wrote:For any attendees who will be coming by car - I can't say exactly what the traffic will be like @ 10 am, but I've been in this area at various times in the past, and the traffic can be daunting (which is why I'm riding my bike). You might want to allow extra time if coming by car.


For drivers, let me add the traditional admonition not to park in Dominick's -- it's a fierce tow zone. As I recall, there used to be a way to park in Whole Foods lot (like, maybe you have to buy something at WF and get your receipt stamped?).

Me, I usually find a place to park a few blocks west of Canal (Clinton is a good bet).
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Hi,

I plan to attend. I always enjoy these walk abouts.

Regards,
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Cathy2

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It's pretty busy even as early as 7, so public transit or cycling is a good option if you can do it.
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leek wrote:It's pretty busy even as early as 7, so public transit or cycling is a good option if you can do it.


I agree, though I rarely get there before 9:30 and always find a place to park on the street. It's crowded, but there's a lot of in and out.
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Dunno if this has been mentioned already, but if you're coming in from the North, public transportation really isn't a bad option - if you don't want to walk from the State/Roosevelt Red Line, you can take the #12 bus. A slightly more romantic, if more expensive, option (maybe to get home) is to take the Chicago Water Taxi from "the pagoda" at Chinatown (at 18th St and the river, which is a bit east of Canal) which leaves for Madison every half-hour starting at 11:30, from there it's a short skip to the Metra at Ogilvie.
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I'd really like to join in but unfortunately cannot this Sunday. I took a quick peak at the first of David's Gorilla Gourmet Mexican and will look forward to watching the rest. Are the vendors featured in those clips still around? Alternatively would you be willing to recommend good taco stands as introductions to the Market, say for al pastor and asada?
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Air Flow wrote: Are the vendors featured in those clips still around?


Surprisingly, most were there last weekend: Tamales Oaxaquenos, Ricos Huaraches, Rubi's, Manolo's, the Stand Wrapped in Saran (with new name). Seems like there's a new churros wagon, but the crispy dough sticks are still made fresh on the spot. Alas, the Spice Lady has not been there recently...but she could show up at any time; who knows. That's one of the cool things about the market: it's not a brick and mortar strip mall, it's changeable, and you never know who might or might not make an appearance.
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I've been hoping one of these would happen this summer. My wife and I plan on being there.

Ron
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This Maxwell Street Foray will be a joint excursion between eGullet and LTHForum. Many participating members of eGullet currently post on LTHForum, and this Sunday will provide a chance for both food groups to enjoy the company of one another.

There sometimes seems a warring tribal aspect among online groups: Chowhound vs. LTHForum, LTHForum vs. Yelp, etc., which is unfortunate and counterproductive. We’re all waging the same battle for delicious mouthfuls, and opportunities for sharing ideas and meals with different factions in this food fight are too rare.

It’s cool that many people are expressing interest in this event, though even if you haven’t already committed, no problem, just come, rain or shine, it’s going to happen. There’s no telling how big this group will be, and we usually inevitably break off into small clusters as people stop to purchase tacos or tube sox; if you want to reach me on-site, my cell number is 708-902-3969.

If you fall away from the group, here are some places I consider must-eats (in order of appearance as you walk south down the west side of Canal, turn around at the viaduct, then walk up the east side).

There is nothing more wonderful to eat than a tamale done as they do in Oaxaca. Hint: order the big one, take, sit, experience ecstasy, then pay your money ($3); that’s the way it’s done. Because you’re eating with plastic forks, it’s good to bring a knife to cut the large tamale into bite-sized pieces.

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Ricos Huaraches shares a stall with Deliciosos Cokcteles, and you can’t go wrong with either.

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Rubi’s shares a stall with Manolo’s (pictured), and they’re both pretty good, though I prefer Manolo’s (and so does Bayless, an early supporter). In addition to excellent pork in green or red mole, Manolo’s features the Masa Madonna, who is sometimes spotted, eyes downcast, focused, Olmec stern, committed to the corn paste pressed beneath her fingertips.

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Back near Roosevelt, and in front of Bossman’s Bargains (at 3:00PM, everything on the tables is 25 cents!), is what seems to be a new churros wagon. Nice that this concession is now placed near "the end" of the usual circuit, as these make a better dessert than app.

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To bring along on this trip, I’d recommend small bills, sunscreen, waterless soap, a knife (switchblade is perfect), maybe a few paper towels shoved in your back pocket, compass and waterproof matches (kidding about the last two).

Hammond
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David Hammond wrote:This Maxwell Street Foray will be a joint excursion between eGullet and LTHForum. Many participating members of eGullet currently post on LTHForum, and this Sunday will provide a chance for both food groups to enjoy the company of one another.

There sometimes seems a warring tribal aspect among online groups: Chowhound vs. LTHForum, LTHForum vs. Yelp, etc., which is unfortunate and counterproductive. We’re all waging the same battle for delicious mouthfuls, and opportunities for sharing ideas and meals with different factions in this food fight are too rare.

David,

I'm glad you brought this up. When you and I initially chatted about this event many months ago, I told you that I envisioned it as a 'mixer' of sorts. However, when the time came to post about it, I wasn't sure the mixing of the 2 groups really mattered to anyone but me. But the fact is, we have several dozen eG people visiting us right now -- from as far away as Japan, Canada, Washington State and New York -- and they have spent their vacation dollars to be here because they are greatly interested in our culinary scene. Of course, no valuable glimpse of our food scene can happen without LTHForum being a part of it. These folks have found us through eG and that's a good thing.

Many of the local people who are attending this event post both here and at eG. And we locals have taken great pride over this weekend in showing off what our town has to offer, and sharing the enjoyment of it with our visitors. So, tomorrow's foray to Maxwell Street will be especially rewarding because it is a truly distinctive part of Chicago's culinary scene. As most of us know, it's wonderful to see your own home through the eyes of visitors, especially when they are so enthralled with what they are experiencing.

This will be a great way to treat our visitors to yet another one of Chicago's culinary gems. I know that our collective passion easily trumps the artificial borders of which internet forum we each might consider 'home.'

=R=
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"That's right - I'll combine an entree and a side into a Superdish. I don't give a f*ck!" --Beverly Goldberg

I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider

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A great tour today. Many, many thanks to David Hammond for leading our group around the market.

The food was just an absolute joy. I didn't think things could get much better than the tamale I started our with. But then I had a chicharron taco (served on a freshly made tortilla). When I looked inside my taco it just looked like some salsa verde and I thought my order had been screwed up. I decided to try it anyway, figuring it would probably be damn good, even if it wasn't what I ordered. Turns out, the order was correct. The chicharrones were just in a semi-liquefied state. And man was it tasty.

Mmmmm, liquefied pork fat taco.
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This was my first time at an LTH event and it was even better than expected. Thanks to David Hammond and the other kind people that I met, I'll be able to venture back to Maxwell Street with some degree of confidence.

Most of my time was spent snacking, chatting and soaking up the scenery, but I took a few photos.

If anyone is curious, I'm Richard and I was wearing a dark blue short sleeved shirt with grey jeans. I didn't get very many people's LTH names (or real names, for that matter).

Thanks again!

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Delicious churros

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I can't remember what this fruit was called, but it has the stringy texture of squash. It's relatively sweet.

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Where else can you get a mattress, the shadow of barbed wire, and Metra trains in a single shot?

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pastor at Manolo's (I think)
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David-

Thanks for the tour today. It was really fun, if only to see the food being prepared up-close, especially the fresh tortillas. I really enjoyed the tamale verde, as well as the quesadilla with flor de calabaza. And for those who may ride your bikes down there (which is a great idea, by the way), you can find easy bike parking in the Dominick's plaza next door.
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Don't know how the eGulleteers enjoyed or didn't their visit to the jostling madness of Maxwell Street, hardly saw them though I heard there were quite a few, but had a very pleasant time with LTHers Cathy2 and Mhays & family, shopping for Pokemon cards.

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New to me: an African woman working spells with incense. Hammond said he'd only seen her once before.

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Fishing poles were also new to me:

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The stand with the fruit drinks was giving out samples of mamey, a sort of cross between a squash and a canteloupe. I've seen it listed as a flavor at ice cream stands, but never seen the fruit.

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Not a meatball taco, it's chicharron (pork skin/fat) on a taco. I passed on that, the better to concentrate on the steak, pastor, red mole and flor de calabaza at Manolo's. For once I went there not having stuffed myself before reaching it, and was really able to enjoy all those things on superbly fresh tortillas.

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Homemade noisemakers for every taste:

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I thought this was the creepiest thing I saw (nothing says candy like wrinkly corpse-like flesh):

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But the idea of owning a dozen R. Kelly bobbleheads probably beat it.

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I know some folks were asking about our Water Taxi trip, although to keep it food-related -I ordered and devoured the taco de chicharron pictured above, yes - it was the gelatinous gloopy kind, which is my second-favorite (I prefer the grilled crispy kind.) Mike G kindly helped our entire little group to get the spread of tacos he mentioned above, wish I had photos of the assembly-line masa prep.

However, we left the market following this route (which, if a little on the long side, appears to be the only way to get across the river) to Ping Tom park, a real little gem in Chinatown.

From the bridge, we could see a group practicing Tai-Chi in the pagoda, and the little sandwich board advertising our trip:
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It's a bit of a schlep to get from where that picture was taken down to the park, which you access from Wentworth (you can see the bridge where I took the shot above)
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The taxi leaves Chinatown every hour on the half-hour between 10:30 and 6:30 on Saturdays and Sundays only, the very nice ticket-taker said they're thinking of adding weekday service next year. Even though the boats are only about the size of a bus, they do apparently take bikes. It's either $2 or $4 per person - depending on where you get off (we disembarked at LaSalle for $2 apiece - a weekend pass is $6) and at 12:30 on the nose, there it was!
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There's a no-wake zone within the downtown area, but not until Roosevelt, so the first bit of the trip we got to play "king of the world" a la Titanic (and, yes, if you're lucky you can sit right in the prow)
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And we were treated to one of the most breathtaking views of the Chicago Skyline I've ever seen
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The LaSalle Street exit (available on request apparently) plops you oddly in the middle of Fulton on the River's outdoor cafe, and from there it's just a short jog to the Clark/Lake CTA epicenter. The Madison Exit that precedes it takes you across the street from the Ogilvie Station, and the Michigan station stops you right across from the Trib tower. For the last $6 in our pocket, the rest having been spent on sundries, churros, licuados and chicharron, it was a fabulous alternative for transportation and entertainment in Chicago.
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I'd like to add my thanks to David as well for a terrific tour on my virgin foray to Maxwell Street. It was great to hang with LTH friends and meet some new folks as well. I can't wait to go back to try all of the tacos I didn't get to today.
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Thanks for the tour David. Great weather, tour, food, and conversation. I can't believe that I've lived so close for so many years and not made it down there. Next time I have a hankering for the three "T's" (Tamales, Tortillas, and Tube Socks) I'll know just the place.

Bill
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David,

Thank you once again for leading us on another adventure.

I not only shared food. I shared in the purchase of a good deal in deodorant! The young lads purchases of Pokeman cards made them very, very happy. I am sure Mike G and MHays will be sending those kids to college just on the value of those cards. There is real gold in Pokeman, at least if you are 10 and under. :wink:

I was impressed by the prices for a box of peaches at $10. for a box. I might come back soon to check on those, because that was the best price for peaches observed so far this year. If they are decent, then it could be a worthy purchase.

Regards,
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