For maximum dining enjoyment on a quick trip to Chicago, my husband consulted the chowhound(dot)com boards for a geographically ideal spot to pick up something authentically Chicagoan for the taxi ride back to the airport. All indications pointed to Al's Italian Beef. It seems that Italian beef, sliced thin, served on a sturdy roll, with sweet and/or hot peppers, optional provolone and gravy for immersing, is as storied a comestible for Chicagoans as, say, hot chicken might be in Nashville. In 2008, Esquire magazine declared the sandwich one of America's 10 best sandwiches.
While Mr. Husband was still on the plane, I did a little more research and rediscovered the great Cecil Adams of the Straight Dope, holding forth on Chicago beef earlier this year, writing a typically exhaustive 1,400-word article on the past, present, and future of Italian beef in answer to a reader question.
Fully informed about the history, deliciosity and fame of this sandwich, I could hardly wait for Mr. Husband's report. The instant the Nissan's engine shut off I ran outside to get the news.
Me, in pajamas: *breathless* "How was the sandwich?"
Him: "Huh? Oh. I got a polish sausage."
Seems the beef plus gravy was just too demanding an ordeal for in-taxi dining. Chicagoans, what did he miss in not ordering the beef sandwich?