With my brother in from out of town, May and I wanted to maximize our multicultural exposure. Because those two share a fondness for Latin culture, we opted to spend the afternoon in the Lower West Side neighborhood of Pilsen. Chicago has a great many such culturally distinct neighborhoods that I have thus far done a poor job of exploring. The time spent here certainly inspires me to get around to a few of the others as well – Greektown perhaps?
Immediately upon our arrival, it was clear that we were someplace rather different. All signage was Spanish, the people were Latin, the primary language of communication changed, and all of the shops catered to the local tastes. Our first stop was to the National Museum of Mexican Art. Outside of it though we bumped into a friend of Parker’s, who seemed familiar to me as well – oh yea, my college adviser’s husband. iQue casualidad! The museum wasn’t enormous, and we took a pretty quick pass though the exhibits. The art though was of impressive, colorful, and distinctly Mexican.
We enjoyed what we saw, but wound up having the better time in the gift shop. Los Tres Luchadores!
We left the museum with a certain pang in our guts, we stopped into a garishly decorated Salvadorean restaurant that was dressed in some some odd combination of tropical Margaritaville and nationalistic flair. The food that caught our eye, one of El Salvadore’s signature treats, are called pupusas. These are about the size and thickness of a pancake, and include some meat and cheese inside them. One top, one adds salsa and pickled cabbage to taste. It was muy bueno.
We stopped into a few vintage shops, a bakery, a bookshop, and whatever else struck our fancy. One of our last stops however was a paleteria, which included a number of exotic ice creams. Parker of course had to sample each before making his calculated decision. May and I on the other had just dove in and hoped for the best from the tequila and corn flavors; both were a surprisingly true to life.
We hit up a couple of bodegas on our way back home to get what we needed for dinner. May was going to be treating us to some chicken nanban. After carefully selecting thighs for their succulence, she breaded and fried them, and then added a vinegar sauce to it. This provides the unique, sour bite. Chicken nanban was one of my favorite meals when I first got to Japan, but this home-cooked version blew that away.