By Alan Lake (Jazzfood)
Happening upon LTH Forum was a game changer for me. After nearly two decades, I returned home to Chicago knowing the streets but not what was on them any longer. The city had changed quite a bit in my absence.
A mention of LTH in the Reader (probably by Mike Sula but I can’t remember) teased me with a cut-to-the-chase of like-minded people in all things culinary. Every weekend for the first year I was back, my sister would show up at my apartment asking “Whattayagot? ” in an accent heard only around these parts. By that she meant, where would we be eating based on my newly gleaned knowledge from LTH discussions the preceding week? We sampled Thai grocers and Pakistani BBQ, attended a few events, and in so doing met a lot of new people. People I never would have met left to my own devices. While I had old friends here that helped tip the scale to come back, now I have new friends too – many of which who’ve come via LTH.
In reading the forums, certain writing stood out. I found myself laughing and agreeing with some, and shaking my head and wondering with others. The first time I was able to put a face to a name was during the historic Fanny’s debacle of ’06. Having been weaned on Fanny’s, I went in with high expectations. I left feeling I’d experienced an abortion (a.k.a. the meal) without anesthetic. Misery loves company, though, and the company was excellent. That evening I met a couple of people who would become my friends. And then I met more. And more. So it’s safe to say that LTH had significant influence on me (as it has on many that are reading this). This is but one reason many of us at LTH take this community so personally.
As if we own the damn thing.
But we don’t. Steve Zaransky, Ronnie Suburban and Dave Dickson do. So, I’d like to introduce you to two people (one I met that fateful evening, the other a short time later) that act as caretakers for LTHForum. Steve Zaransky and Ronnie Suburban. Since we’ve fressed so often together over the ensuing years, both in their homes and in the many restaurants found here on LTH, I thought they’d be naturals for this Home Cookin’ series.
We have similar personalities and backgrounds, with food playing huge roles in our early lives. In their cases, it even ran in the families. Ronnie’s grandfather was a butcher, and Steve’s family owned hotels. Ronnie remembers having sandwiches stuffed in his pockets at the deli his father would send him to, while Steve dined quite well at the hotels.
It’s as if we took the same trip back to our childhoods. Certain foods help you to step inside your memories. It may be Sunday gravy or kugel. Kimchi or menudo. Depends where you grew up or with whom you grew up. Your people.
Here are two of mine.