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Thursday, December 12

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Feature Thu May 22 2008

Musings on the Wedding Banquet

Now that warmer weather is en route, the wedding invitations start showing up in the mailbox. Summer weddings, autumn weddings, holiday weekend weddings, destination weddings--now begins the months of Saturdays filling up on your calendar as you commit to being with your friends as they take the marital plunge. Which also means that you gotta eat what you're given.

The people and the conversation are probably the most important part of a wedding, but the food and drink matters. You can't do the Electric Slide on an empty stomach, and a cash bar only pisses people off and makes them wish they had bought you a cheaper gift.

I think we've all been to our share of lavish weddings--I attended a wedding at the Fairmont where no expense was spared, and I still remember the mashed potato bar, where I ate sweet and savory spuds from martini glasses and gaped at the massive chocolate fountain that left a Jackson Pollock-esqe mural of messy Hershey syrup puddles on the table of fruit kebabs and angel food cake surrounding it. People crowded around that fountain like it was a new roller coaster ride at Six Flags. I went to another wedding this past summer at Bin 36 where I ate my weight in a tuna and tortilla chip hors d'oeuvre. Ah, the gluttony.

I also remember the shitty weddings, one in particular. After an agonizing drive in hot Saturday summer traffic down the Dan Ryan to a southwest suburb, we stood in a backyard eating stale Maurice Lenell cookies and cheese plates from Jewel that were set out for the second-tier group of people who were only invited to show up three hours after the actual ceremony (which we were unknowingly part of, despite several of us eagerly having flown in from both the East and West coasts for this woman's nuptials). I washed down the culinary humiliation with a swig of diet cola poured from a 2-liter bottle sitting on an unmanned makeshift bar (that still had a tip jar!). Feeling like fools for wasting our time and money, and starving to boot, we began to make the drive back to the city when I spotted a Sizzler knockoff near the highway, and suggested we stop for a steak sandwich platter. Even though we were famished, I was vetoed.

I've heard of potluck weddings, bars that served free glasses of Three-Buck Chuck or other "extreme value" (read: strange, off-label) wine purchased in cases at discount liquor stores, and receptions that involved box lunches. A friend's wedding cake, bought at an upscale bakery for a small home ceremony, read "Happy Birthday, Liz" (this is what happens when your custom cake order is forgotten--it was quite tasty, Liz!). While going off the beaten path can be charming and reflective of the wedded couple's personalities, it can also backfire. I don't want to sound like a low-rent wedding planner, but cutting corners shows, especially when food and drink is involved. On the other hand, if I'm starving at a wedding, I can't complain: I likely bought only the gravy boat off the registry, so if I'm stuck eating generic chex mix and Sweet Valley cola, well, the best to us both.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
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