Photo, videos and text: Adrián Szász dr.
It offers strong, characterful flavors. The typical Cajun dish is a cooked cavalcade of ingredients in a bowl. This is Cajun cuisine along the Mississippi River, which blends the gastronomy of French and Spanish immigrants to the United States with the cooking habits of Caribbean people. Since Chicago River connects Mississippi River Basin to Lake Michigan, it’s obvious that the waitress here brings me a real Cajun food: jambalaya. I have just landed in Chicago, on the plane I watched the Blues Brothers movie. Now I’m sitting at House of Blues, where jambalaya (made with onion, sausage, bell pepper, celery, crab and red rice) is accompanied by authentic Chicago Blues. The food is strong and characterful just like the guitar solos of the brilliant Joanna Connor. She got tens of thousands of likes on the Internet yesterday – half the world searched in Google: who is this white woman who has black music in her blood? Today Ms Connor is playing exclusively for me and two more dozens of lucky ones:
Next day I discover the city that is guilty and engaging just like the gangster – or criminal or romantic – movies shot there. Over and over again, I get back to the subway, the Chicago L, the famous elevated train to enjoy its unique atmosphere. It has been in operation since 1892 – only New York’s one is older than that. As it ribbons half high between the houses, you can look into the local homes from its deck. Not only is the L classical cinema scene, but readers of the Chicago Tribune have voted it among the city’s seven wonders. Are you coming on a 3-minute-long journey by the L with me?
My night is about music again: concerts take place in two rooms of the Kingston Mines Blues Club, while locals have a hamburger discussing with everyone, including me. It is hardly taught here in childhood that “you should not speak to a stranger”. Otherwise, an English-speaking insurance expert whose father was still born in Hungary, but he already has grown up in the States, would not talk to me. He also sings together with the crowd the popular song: “Sweet Home Chicago”. Then he hugs me when I tell him that I came from the land of his grandparents. 🙂 Now we can listen to three episodes of that unforgettable night full with unforgettable singers/divas who had unforgettable appearance and voice. On the first video you can see Nora Jean Bruso who was named one of the ten great women in Chicago blues by Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. On the second and third one you can view/hear Nellie “Tiger” Travis whose nickname precisely “describes her intense, feline vocal style as well as her feisty, independent personality”. 😉
My third day also has a surprising encounter for me: in a Catholic church I meet Father Gabriel, who turns out to be from the Austrian side of the Hungarian border so he gives me special blessing. This is how the end of a Mass in Holy Family Catholic Church in Chicago looks like (pretty cheerful and inspirational):
I set the framework for the trip: I spend my last night in House of Blues again. I am listening to Mike Wheeler’s Band who was inducted in the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame in 2014. I’ll come back later with photos of the Mexican quarter and other interesting parts of the Windy City but for today I’m saying goodbye with a short part of “Stand by Me”: