Friday, April 3, 2015

Masterpiece Eat-a-ter: The Joy of Ballpark Food Book Review

There are many days Brandy looks forward to through out the year, and this year two of those days are combining into one wonderful, magical day.  For a brunch maven like Brandy, Easter is the single most high holy day, and for Chicago residents, Opening Day at Wrigley Field might as well be Christmas, so the fact that this year both of those events are happening on the same day means that Brandy has quite a lot to prepare for.  "If I wear a red and blue Easter bonnet, can I then wear the same hat to the ballgame?" was one of the many quandaries Brandy was pondering as she arranged the details of her up coming Sunday.

While tying to take her mind off of roasting hams, dyeing eggs, and salting peanuts Brandy settled down with a very interesting book that had arrived in her mail box.  The Joy of Ballpark Food: From Hot Dogs to Haute Cuisine by Bennett Jacobstein turned out to be a delightful tour of every major league ballpark and the culinary delights to be found in all of them as well as a fun and informative history of ballpark food, like how hot dogs and Cracker Jacks became associated with America's favorite pastime.

Brandy got absolutely lost in reading about the amazing and surprising variety of foods available at all of the ballparks, like Cheesey Corn in Kansas City, Sushi in New York, and Poutine in Toronto just to name a few.  Each ballpark section also featured detailed descriptions of the various specialty hot dogs, sausages, and brats for sale, such as the The Venom Dog with habanero sausage in Arizona, The Bacon Wrapped Dog in St. Louis, and The Beast in Milwaukee, which is a bratwurst stuffed with a hot dog, the very thought of which made Brandy giggle uncontrollably.

Of course, the book highlights both of Chicago's teams.  For the Cubs, many of the offerings from last year's 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field are featured, such as the various Decade Dogs (hot dogs tailored to fit each of the 10 decades Wrigley Field has been around) as well as staples of the ballpark like Giordano's Stuffed Pizza.  For the White Sox and U.S. Cellular Field, the traditional Chicago style hot dog is discussed as well as less traditional ballpark fair like buns from Wow Bao and a Pork Chop Sandwich from the Southside Hitmen Grille.

The author of the book, Bennett Jacobstein, certainly knows what he's talking about, as he visited each of the major league parks personally during the 2014 season in order to investigate their offerings.  Bennett is a life long San Francisco Giants fan who regularly works the concession stand for one of their minor league affiliates.  “The new food era has brought such a wonderful gustatory experience at the ballparks with chef-prepared masterpieces, vegetarian and kosher delights, as well as amped up riffs on the hot dog and sausage," as he points out.

Brandy became so engrossed in the casual and delightful tone of The Joy of Ballpark Food that she nearly forgot all about planning her Easter brunch.  "Maybe those boys working out there on Wrigley Field found copies of this book too," Brandy supposed, "Which would most certainly explain why they haven't finished putting up those bloody bleachers!"

The Joy of Ballpark Food  is available on Amazon and Kindle.

The writers of this blog were sent a copy of this book in order to facilitate the writing of this post.

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