Food Homesickness

I will freely admit to having a love/hate relationship with my hometown of Erie.

Love: The lake and beaches.
Hate: The 7-9 months of shitty weather.
Love: The older urban architecture.
Hate: The careless urban dilapidation.
Love: The small town feel.
Hate: The pervasive small town mindset.
Love: The friends and family I grew up with.

The list could go on and on.

Lately, however, the "hates" have receded to the back of my mind and intense cravings for Erie food has been at the forefront of my brain. For some, Erie may not have a lot to offer, but it does have a very distinct and delicious food culture. Here in Nashville there is, of course, an abundance of Southern food but I haven't really found much in the way of a particular Nashville food culture. There's the Hot Chicken which I've been told is distinctly Nashville, but that's about it.

Erie on the other hand...

Well here's a comment I found about Erie on a thread over at ChowHound:

"For being a little hellhole in Pennsylvania, they sure do have their own little food culture, and I love it!"

Right on man!

Today, Daniel and I went to the Greek Festival for lunch and my mouth was watering anticipating the Greek Fries I grew up eating at the Greek Festival in Erie. Imagine my profound dismay when I was served a cup of french fries sprinkled with a few Greek herbs. WTH!?

Okay okay, I realize that the Greek Fries I was served this afternoon were probably more authentically Greek, but when I think "greek" fries I can only conjure up a plate of greasy fries piled high with the spicy "greek" sauce and melted cheddar cheese. Oh mama! Erie-ites, back me up here!

I could even eat a greek hot dog right now (which is unusual for me because I generally hate hot dogs and can't even remember the last time I ate one).

But let's not stop there.

How about Pepperoni Balls? ohmigod. Little fried tennis ball of dough filled with spicy pepperoni. I have never seen nor eaten these things outside of Erie. Speaking of Italian food...Erie has some of the best Italian food joints. I seriously have not been able to locate an Eggplant Parmesan Sub anywhere near equal to the one served by Valerio's. Makes my wouth water just thinking about it.

And for dessert there are at least two options. Morning dessert = Mighty Fine Donuts. Especially the chocolate cream filled donuts. I try and try to like the chocolate cream filled donuts that can be found around here, but they pale in comparison. Evening dessert = Sponge Candy from Romolo's (or any candy really). This is the food of the gods and I could eat a whole bag of it right this second.

Not sure where these cravings for my hometown foods are coming from exactly - nostalgia? pregnancy hormones? Or maybe I'm just hungry!

I'm going to go see if I can find a recipe for Daniel to make some authentic tasting Erie Greek Sauce!

What are some other distinctly Erie foods?


mom said...

Ranch chicken pizza, and sausage, onion, and pepper sandwiches which are at all the fairs right now. You've made me hungry for greek dogs and fries...yum.

Daniel said...

Well knowing what I know of the kinds of foods yankees eat,
I would guess hometown dishes would be something like boiled pebbles that are over salted or anything with eggplant.

HeyBetty!! said...

mmm boiled pebbles with eggplant

Mars Girl said...

When I lived in Denver, I missed pierogies. They didnt seem to know what they were in Denver. I was at a loss to understand it. It took me a long time to realize that food is regional.

Diane. said...

Mmmmm, now I'm hungry. I think I need to take a road trip to Erie!

cathryn said...

Update: Okay, I did in fact find a recipe for "greek" sauce. Daniel tells me it is in fact "chili". Whatever. We tried it and while the texture wasn't quite right, the taste was pretty spot on! And it's an EASY crockpot recipe. We also baked (lacking a deep fryer) some french fries and Daniel made a cheddar cheese sauce (I suggested Cheez Whiz, but I'm glad he blatantly disregarded my suggestion).

Anyway, here's the recipe:

1 pound hamburger (as lean as you can get it)
2 chopped onions OR 1/2 tsp onion salt and 1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp sweet basil
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 small can (8oz) tomato sauce
3/4 cup water

Place all ingredients in crock pot. cook all day on low or 1/2 day on high.

Note: Daniel did brown the meat briefly before putting it in the crock pot. We used raw onions, which, I don't know...I think maybe the onion powder/salt might work better in this case. Also, to my mind, this needs to end up a very fine texture (no clumps of meat), and would recommend putting it in a blender or food processor for a few pulses to get the right texture.

Sounds gross, but it was SO good!

Donna said...

You forgot about OX Roast :) I can send you the bottled Greek sauce starter, avaliable especially for out of towners. But of course, this greek sauce tastes best on a Smith's hot dog, which you can now order online and have shipped to you :) Or, how about a fresh, perch dinner? My dad has the freezer stocked... Next time you're in town. Oh, and speaking of Mighty Fine, I picked up 2 dozen on the way to work last week--it was my turn to buy! Miss ya chica! (P.S. Greek Sauce Omelets as Panos are one of our new favorite breakfast items or late night alcohol absorbers :) )