Book Review: The Slow Food Guide to Chicago

The Slow Food Guide to Chicago: Restaurants, Markets, Bars edited by Kelly Gibson and Portia Belloc Lowndes, published by Chelsea Green Publishing, 2008. Paperback, 284 pages. (Amazon)

Slow Food, a movement started in Italy almost twenty years ago, aims "to protect the pleasures of the table from the homogenization of modern fast food and life." The popularity of the movement is evident in this well-crafted book, the second in a series on American cities that began, naturally enough, with New York City. While not all places in the book fit their definition of Slow, those that do are noted with the snail logo. Not surprisingly, the most snails fall under the American category, where local ingredients are more appropriate than popular international styles like Thai, French, or Italian. It was pleasing to see that unlike other guides to culinary Chicago, this one does not have an overwhelming North Side bias, with the inclusion of many South Side locations that the typical Slow Eater might now know about. The guide does have its shortcomings, though these are small, such as the fact the photographs sprinkled throughout have no relationship to the text, writing that can be a bit trite at times, and the lack of decent, detailed maps. Overall it offered many surprises and helpful recommendations, something a good guidebook should accomplish.