Anytime I travel to a place, it’s a goal of mine to indulge in whatever the area prides itself on – food, drinks, activities, history, architecture, etc. I mean, one of the main purpose of travel is to see life as the locals of an area, do, right? RIGHT! With this in mind, my son Connor, and I, took a trip to St. Louis. Despite this very popular U.S. city being one that I have visited countless times before, I never got the chance to dig deeper into what the locals may indulge in and boast about. I decided to try a few foods that are staples of the area and needless to say, this decision was filled with a lot of regret.
- Imo’s: Louis style pizza – Quite honestly, I initially had no idea that St. Louis had its own style of pizza that it is actually PROUD of. Being so close to a worldwide pizza capital, like Chicago, I would figure the city wouldn’t even want to compete! Wrong! What exactly is St. Louis style pizza? St. Louis pizza has VERY distinct characteristics that realistically shouldn’t qualify it as “pizza” at all. The crust is paper-thin and crunchy, due to the “bread” having no yeast and being unleavened, so yeah – no dough! Now, let’s talk about the “cheese” – Provel. *sigh* It’s actually a white processed cheese product. Due to its low melting point, it becomes buttery and gooey just at ROOM TEMPERATURE; imagine the condition of it, when it’s cooked. Provel is manufactured in Wisconsin, primarily for the market of St. Louis and is hard to find outside of the area – Thank God. The sauce – well the sauce (on this particular pizza from Imo’s) was….. sweet. I opted to add chicken, as if that would help and it did absolutely nothing but make me feel as if I was eating one giant nacho chip with some of the most repulsive cheese I’ve ever tasted. I’m quite unclear how this even qualifies to be in the category of pizza.
Old St. Louis Chop Suey: St. Paul sandwich – No, it’s not from St. Paul; Its native to St. Louis and sold mostly in Chinese restaurants. The St. Paul sandwich takes an EGG FOO YOUNG PATTY (your choice of meat) and smashes it between two slices of white bread with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and mayo. Lots of mayo. It is a greasy, sloppy, oppressed looking sandwich, where the egg foo young is apparently depressed because it was only good enough to be stomped in between bread instead of under its traditional gravy and the sandwich in its entirety looks days old. TheTakeout.com mentions that the name may have come from the sandwich originating on a steamer ship that was traveling on the Mississippi River in the early 20th century and made by a Chinese cook that created it in order to spare money. That ship was named “The St. Paul.” While there are other stories of its origin, one thing is for certain – the first bite will make you gag.
Federhofer’s Bakery:Gooey Butter Cake – SAVING GRACE! Had it not been for this piece of heaven, I would’ve felt like chugging the pizza I got from Imo’s, right back at their door! Butter cake is a St. Louis tradition that dates back to the 1930’s. Per legend, it was created due to a German baker mistakenly adding the wrong proportions of ingredients to cake batter that he was mixing (either butter & flour or butter & sugar were reversed), which led to it being gooey, super sweet and sticky. Regardless of this mistake, it was a hit!
Becoming a permanent part of the St. Louis food scene, the bakeries that serve this treat, almost always sell out of them. As soon as I bit into the cake, it immediately started oozing! I couldn’t wait to devour it with cold milk. Getting a whole cake is the norm and is usually less than 10 bucks. It is a must have!
Despite me having a couple more interesting “foods” to try (like the brain sandwich), my stomach and I had, had enough. My next visit to St. Louis will be to embrace the delicious foods on the foodie scene in the city, as opposed to the items that I now consider to be gag-worthy. However, I do now question the taste buds and sanity of those that indulge in some of the native St. Louis, on purpose.