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The Daily Dish: Swedish Chef Claims He Was Beat Up for Looking Like Donald Trump

The Daily Dish: Swedish Chef Claims He Was Beat Up for Looking Like Donald Trump

Swedish Chef Claims He Was Beat Up for Looking Like Donald Trump

Swedish chef and TV personality Anders Vendel made international headlines after he posted on social media about being attacked outside a fast-food restaurant, allegedly for “looking like Donald Trump.” In his original Facebook post, which has since been deleted, Anders said he was targeted by three “Muslim men” and ended up in the hospital with injuries from the incident. Since the incident was spread to multiple media outlets, Venders has since backed off on his claim about the “Muslim men” who attacked him. He originally assumed they were Muslim because he thought he heard them speaking Arabic, but he said he could not be certain. "I was angry, hurt and humiliated when I wrote what I was thinking at the time," Vendel told The Local. “I'm absolutely not a racist, not after what happened either. It could have been anyone. I'm alive — it will be OK."

‘Super Size Me’ Star Morgan Spurlock Is Opening a Fast-Food Restaurant

Morgan Spurlock, the filmmaker who directed and starred in the famous critical documentary about the fast-food industry, Super Size Me, will open his own fast-food restaurant called Holy Chicken! in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 19. This restaurant won’t be like others in the fast-food industry, though; it will serve natural products that customers can take on the go. “Everything about the food is made and backed with integrity and openness including closing the loop in sustainability by raising our own chickens,” the company said in a statement, according to Indie Wire. “The food is not only hormone free, its [sic] antibiotic free, cage free, free range, farm raised, humanely raised and 100 percent natural!” Central Ohio was chosen as the targeted location since it is commonly used as a test market for fast food, Columbus Business First reported.

Film Director Francis Coppola Opens Native American-Inspired Restaurant

American film director Francis Coppola unveiled his new restaurant, Werowocomoco, located in his Virginia Dare Winery in Geyserville, California. Inspiration for the restaurant came from the winery itself, which was one of the first in the U.S., according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Through Coppola’s research, he discovered that the winery was named for the first English child born in the New World in the colony of Virginia. Coppola chose to name the restaurant after the seventeenth-century Algonquin settlement in Virginia. “Virginia Dare Winery highlights the genesis of American winemaking, so it makes sense that our new restaurant would celebrate our country’s indigenous foods,” Coppola said in a press release to Wine Business. The restaurant will feature “Native American ambience and food” in order to “highlight ingredients of America as it once had been.” The menu will include food ranging from bison ribs with a berry barbecue sauce to river-harvested wild rice with cranberries.

Most Diet Apps Aren’t as Healthy as We Think

New research from scientists at the George Washington University School of Medicine found that 75 percent of the most popular healthy eating apps out there did not recommend daily amounts of certain food groups or take into account important sub-groups like dark leafy greens, whole grains, and healthy fats, according to Tech Radar. The study, led by Tania Dhawan and presented at the annual American Heart Association Conference, analyzed 32 health and fitness apps available on Google Play and the iTunes App Store, and compared their advice to the U.S. Department of Agriculture 2015–2020 Dietary Guide for Americans. Although many of the apps fell short, 72 percent took into account several of the top five government-recommended guidelines for healthy eating: healthy eating patterns, appropriate calorie limits, nutrient-dense foods and beverages, a variety of foods and beverages, and social support.

Eating Tomatoes Might Lower Your Risk of Prostate Cancer

A new study, still in the peer-review process and not yet published, suggests that men can lower their risk of developing prostate cancer by eating tomatoes and other foods that contain lycopene — a naturally occurring phytochemical that gives vegetables and fruits a pink or red hue. The study conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that men who consumed higher amounts lycopene had an 11 percent decreased risk of prostate cancer than those who consumed less. “Because lycopene is present in only a few foods, and approximately 85 percent of lycopene in the American diet comes from tomatoes and tomato products, people can really focus on eating tomato-containing foods,” John W. Erdman Jr., a professor at UIUC and the senior author on this research, told the American Institute for Cancer Research. “That’s a pretty easy way to reduce risk of cancer.”


How giardiniera crossed an ocean to become Chicago's favorite condiment

Everyone understands the risk of handing a Chicagoan ketchup, so what's the right condiment to pass? That's easy. Giardiniera. (Say it with me, "jar-din-air-ah.") It's the quintessential Chicago condiment, one that's as brazen and boisterous as the city itself.

This fiery mix contains some combination of pickled chiles, celery, cauliflower, carrots and olives submerged in oil. Like an edible exclamation point, giardiniera adds instant heat, crunch and acid to many of our city's iconic foods, including Italian beefs, Italian subs and deep-dish pizza. It's even there when you might not expect it. Ever ask for hot peppers on a sandwich at Potbelly? That's giardiniera.

Certainly, no other place in the United States cares for giardiniera as much as we do. It exists in every neighborhood, with multiple brands vying for shelf space at grocery stores and many fast food stands mixing up their own batches. When he was growing up in Chicago, giardiniera was a constant presence, says Jimmy Shay, now the meat department manager at Local Foods market in the Clybourn Corridor. "Every Sunday, we'd have the same dishes on the table: a loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese and a jar of giardiniera."

Today, he makes his own giardiniera at the market. "It brings a lot of things to the table: acid, salt and freshness," he says.

Outside of the Chicago area, giardiniera drifts from an essential to an exception rather quickly. Chef Paul Virant, of Vie Restaurant in suburban Western Springs, who included a recipe for giardiniera in his 2012 book, "The Preservation Kitchen," says that he didn't know about the dish until he moved to Chicago. "Being from St. Louis, you just didn't see giardiniera," he says.

As important as it is here, giardiniera wasn't invented in Chicago. It originated in Italy, where it means mixed pickles. Giardiniera also is the name for a female gardener, which is helpful insomuch as it alludes to the vegetables in the mix. According to Jim Graziano, owner of J.P. Graziano Grocery Co., an Italian import company that's been in business in the West Loop since 1937, giardiniera is the Italian way of preserving vegetables from the garden. "That's the main thing," says Graziano. "It was strictly to protect the vegetables for the winter."

Just about every Italian is familiar with giardiniera, says Domenica Marchetti, author of "Preserving Italy," a book about canning and preserving. "Go into a grocery store in Italy, and you'll find all kinds on the shelves," she says.

Though impossible to know the exact date, giardiniera undoubtedly appeared in Chicago along with the wave of Italian immigration that came to the city in the late 19th century.

That's around the time V. Formusa Co., maker of the best-selling giardiniera brand, Marconi, opened. According to general manager Jeff Johnson, the company was founded in 1898 by Vincent Formusa, an immigrant from Termini Imerese, Sicily. "At first, he was importing oil and Italian produce," says Johnson. "Then he got into the Sicilian method of preserving vegetables in oil." While Johnson won't claim that his company was the first to sell giardiniera in Chicago, he believes the company is in "strong contention for at least popularizing it." V. Formusa makes giardiniera under a number of different brands and also makes all the giardiniera for the Portillo's chain.

But Chicago's giardiniera is not a mirror image of what you'll find in most of Italy. There, the vegetables are cut in bigger chunks and typically canned with vinegar instead of oil. (If you encounter giardiniera in other parts of America, it has far more in common with the Italian version.) "I've been looking through my books, and I don't see anything like the Chicago-style giardiniera in Italy," says Marchetti. "A lot of different regions make it, (so) you'd really have to travel all over (the country) before you can unequivocally say that there's nothing like it. But I personally haven't seen it." Johnson, however, calls making giardiniera with vinegar a "Northern Italian method" and says oil is used in Sicily.

Using vinegar versus oil makes a huge difference in the finished product. "When it's packed in vinegar, it's an antipasti thing," says Graziano, best served with sliced charcuterie, olives or cheese. Graziano thinks of the Chicago-style giardiniera as more of a condiment.

Chicago-style giardiniera is also usually pickled for longer. According to Shay of Local Foods, making Chicago-style giardiniera is a two-step process. "First, you pickle the vegetables," he says. Then, "you drain everything, and then cover (the vegetables) with oil." Shay lets the vegetables pickle for two weeks before tossing them in the oil, where he leaves them to infuse for another two weeks.

Since no condiment stands by itself, giardiniera needed a partner in crime before it could catapult to fame here. It found a home as the topping for Italian beef, the classic Chicago sandwich of thinly sliced roast beef that's often served with its roasting juices (or jus). "It's the perfect accompaniment for the Italian beef," says Shay. "That brightness and acidity really cuts through everything."

Much like the Italian version, Chicago-style giardinera has no set recipe, leaving each Italian beef stand owner with his or her own opinion of what goes into the mix. The two most critically acclaimed stands, Al's #1 Italian Beef in Little Italy and Johnnie's Beef in suburban Elmwood Park, offer radically different versions. Al's #1 serves a spare mix of celery and bell peppers, with only some red pepper flakes for heat. Johnnie's Beef goes for a far more abundant version, adding carrots, cauliflower and sport peppers.

J.P. Graziano's house-brand giardiniera includes olives, about the only contentious addition for giardiniera purists. As Jim Graziano readily admits, olives grow on trees, not in a garden, but he loves the flavor they add to the jar. The shop's recipe dates to at least the 1950s, when a woman named Deanna made all of the giardiniera at her house in Cicero. "She made large batches in her basement," says Graziano, noting that regulations at the time were "ridiculously lax." J.P. Graziano continued to purchase the woman's giardiniera until she retired in her mid-90s and sold the recipe to another company. "They started using sliced olives to save money," says Graziano. "It made the whole jar taste like olives." So the Graziano family purchased the recipe and now has the giardiniera made to the original specifications by a company in Ripon, Wis.

While the Italian beef helped spread the gospel of giardiniera, people eventually started putting it on other foods. Johnson, the V. Formusa manager, says there's nothing "much better than a dipped beef with giardiniera," but he also likes it on other dishes, including a simple plate of scrambled eggs. "It works on everything," he says. "It's not even about the spice. That oil holds everything together."

"I love it on subs and pizza," says Virant, the Vie chef, "but one of my go-tos, especially if I don't have time to put something together, is to take a canned fish like herring or sardines, open up the can, add some giardiniera, and then mix it with lettuce, tomatoes and onions. There you go."

One thing everyone I talked to agreed on was that giardiniera is surging in popularity. The companies I talked to didn't have exact data on sales throughout the years but say the numbers have increased dramatically in the last decade.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it.

"In the past 10 years, it's gone from a really niche Chicago thing to a national one," says Jeff Johnson, who estimates that V. Formusa sells around a million pounds of giardiniera a year. "First we saw a growth in the southern Chicago area, and now we are really growing across the country."

Potbelly goes through hundreds of tons of giardiniera a year, estimates Lori Haughey, a vice president for the company (though, again, the chain refers to the condiment as hot peppers). "We sell (our hot peppers) by the 16-ounce jar, and by the tablespoon in sandwiches," says Haughey. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Potbelly is selling Zapp's hot pepper-flavored chips right now.

While Jim Graziano runs a much smaller operation, he says that in recent years, giardiniera sales have accounted for 80 percent of his out-of-town orders. He believes that when locals move away from the area, they are surprised that they can't easily find the condiment, so they get some delivered. These people, in turn, expose others to Chicago-style giardiniera.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it," he says.


How giardiniera crossed an ocean to become Chicago's favorite condiment

Everyone understands the risk of handing a Chicagoan ketchup, so what's the right condiment to pass? That's easy. Giardiniera. (Say it with me, "jar-din-air-ah.") It's the quintessential Chicago condiment, one that's as brazen and boisterous as the city itself.

This fiery mix contains some combination of pickled chiles, celery, cauliflower, carrots and olives submerged in oil. Like an edible exclamation point, giardiniera adds instant heat, crunch and acid to many of our city's iconic foods, including Italian beefs, Italian subs and deep-dish pizza. It's even there when you might not expect it. Ever ask for hot peppers on a sandwich at Potbelly? That's giardiniera.

Certainly, no other place in the United States cares for giardiniera as much as we do. It exists in every neighborhood, with multiple brands vying for shelf space at grocery stores and many fast food stands mixing up their own batches. When he was growing up in Chicago, giardiniera was a constant presence, says Jimmy Shay, now the meat department manager at Local Foods market in the Clybourn Corridor. "Every Sunday, we'd have the same dishes on the table: a loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese and a jar of giardiniera."

Today, he makes his own giardiniera at the market. "It brings a lot of things to the table: acid, salt and freshness," he says.

Outside of the Chicago area, giardiniera drifts from an essential to an exception rather quickly. Chef Paul Virant, of Vie Restaurant in suburban Western Springs, who included a recipe for giardiniera in his 2012 book, "The Preservation Kitchen," says that he didn't know about the dish until he moved to Chicago. "Being from St. Louis, you just didn't see giardiniera," he says.

As important as it is here, giardiniera wasn't invented in Chicago. It originated in Italy, where it means mixed pickles. Giardiniera also is the name for a female gardener, which is helpful insomuch as it alludes to the vegetables in the mix. According to Jim Graziano, owner of J.P. Graziano Grocery Co., an Italian import company that's been in business in the West Loop since 1937, giardiniera is the Italian way of preserving vegetables from the garden. "That's the main thing," says Graziano. "It was strictly to protect the vegetables for the winter."

Just about every Italian is familiar with giardiniera, says Domenica Marchetti, author of "Preserving Italy," a book about canning and preserving. "Go into a grocery store in Italy, and you'll find all kinds on the shelves," she says.

Though impossible to know the exact date, giardiniera undoubtedly appeared in Chicago along with the wave of Italian immigration that came to the city in the late 19th century.

That's around the time V. Formusa Co., maker of the best-selling giardiniera brand, Marconi, opened. According to general manager Jeff Johnson, the company was founded in 1898 by Vincent Formusa, an immigrant from Termini Imerese, Sicily. "At first, he was importing oil and Italian produce," says Johnson. "Then he got into the Sicilian method of preserving vegetables in oil." While Johnson won't claim that his company was the first to sell giardiniera in Chicago, he believes the company is in "strong contention for at least popularizing it." V. Formusa makes giardiniera under a number of different brands and also makes all the giardiniera for the Portillo's chain.

But Chicago's giardiniera is not a mirror image of what you'll find in most of Italy. There, the vegetables are cut in bigger chunks and typically canned with vinegar instead of oil. (If you encounter giardiniera in other parts of America, it has far more in common with the Italian version.) "I've been looking through my books, and I don't see anything like the Chicago-style giardiniera in Italy," says Marchetti. "A lot of different regions make it, (so) you'd really have to travel all over (the country) before you can unequivocally say that there's nothing like it. But I personally haven't seen it." Johnson, however, calls making giardiniera with vinegar a "Northern Italian method" and says oil is used in Sicily.

Using vinegar versus oil makes a huge difference in the finished product. "When it's packed in vinegar, it's an antipasti thing," says Graziano, best served with sliced charcuterie, olives or cheese. Graziano thinks of the Chicago-style giardiniera as more of a condiment.

Chicago-style giardiniera is also usually pickled for longer. According to Shay of Local Foods, making Chicago-style giardiniera is a two-step process. "First, you pickle the vegetables," he says. Then, "you drain everything, and then cover (the vegetables) with oil." Shay lets the vegetables pickle for two weeks before tossing them in the oil, where he leaves them to infuse for another two weeks.

Since no condiment stands by itself, giardiniera needed a partner in crime before it could catapult to fame here. It found a home as the topping for Italian beef, the classic Chicago sandwich of thinly sliced roast beef that's often served with its roasting juices (or jus). "It's the perfect accompaniment for the Italian beef," says Shay. "That brightness and acidity really cuts through everything."

Much like the Italian version, Chicago-style giardinera has no set recipe, leaving each Italian beef stand owner with his or her own opinion of what goes into the mix. The two most critically acclaimed stands, Al's #1 Italian Beef in Little Italy and Johnnie's Beef in suburban Elmwood Park, offer radically different versions. Al's #1 serves a spare mix of celery and bell peppers, with only some red pepper flakes for heat. Johnnie's Beef goes for a far more abundant version, adding carrots, cauliflower and sport peppers.

J.P. Graziano's house-brand giardiniera includes olives, about the only contentious addition for giardiniera purists. As Jim Graziano readily admits, olives grow on trees, not in a garden, but he loves the flavor they add to the jar. The shop's recipe dates to at least the 1950s, when a woman named Deanna made all of the giardiniera at her house in Cicero. "She made large batches in her basement," says Graziano, noting that regulations at the time were "ridiculously lax." J.P. Graziano continued to purchase the woman's giardiniera until she retired in her mid-90s and sold the recipe to another company. "They started using sliced olives to save money," says Graziano. "It made the whole jar taste like olives." So the Graziano family purchased the recipe and now has the giardiniera made to the original specifications by a company in Ripon, Wis.

While the Italian beef helped spread the gospel of giardiniera, people eventually started putting it on other foods. Johnson, the V. Formusa manager, says there's nothing "much better than a dipped beef with giardiniera," but he also likes it on other dishes, including a simple plate of scrambled eggs. "It works on everything," he says. "It's not even about the spice. That oil holds everything together."

"I love it on subs and pizza," says Virant, the Vie chef, "but one of my go-tos, especially if I don't have time to put something together, is to take a canned fish like herring or sardines, open up the can, add some giardiniera, and then mix it with lettuce, tomatoes and onions. There you go."

One thing everyone I talked to agreed on was that giardiniera is surging in popularity. The companies I talked to didn't have exact data on sales throughout the years but say the numbers have increased dramatically in the last decade.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it.

"In the past 10 years, it's gone from a really niche Chicago thing to a national one," says Jeff Johnson, who estimates that V. Formusa sells around a million pounds of giardiniera a year. "First we saw a growth in the southern Chicago area, and now we are really growing across the country."

Potbelly goes through hundreds of tons of giardiniera a year, estimates Lori Haughey, a vice president for the company (though, again, the chain refers to the condiment as hot peppers). "We sell (our hot peppers) by the 16-ounce jar, and by the tablespoon in sandwiches," says Haughey. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Potbelly is selling Zapp's hot pepper-flavored chips right now.

While Jim Graziano runs a much smaller operation, he says that in recent years, giardiniera sales have accounted for 80 percent of his out-of-town orders. He believes that when locals move away from the area, they are surprised that they can't easily find the condiment, so they get some delivered. These people, in turn, expose others to Chicago-style giardiniera.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it," he says.


How giardiniera crossed an ocean to become Chicago's favorite condiment

Everyone understands the risk of handing a Chicagoan ketchup, so what's the right condiment to pass? That's easy. Giardiniera. (Say it with me, "jar-din-air-ah.") It's the quintessential Chicago condiment, one that's as brazen and boisterous as the city itself.

This fiery mix contains some combination of pickled chiles, celery, cauliflower, carrots and olives submerged in oil. Like an edible exclamation point, giardiniera adds instant heat, crunch and acid to many of our city's iconic foods, including Italian beefs, Italian subs and deep-dish pizza. It's even there when you might not expect it. Ever ask for hot peppers on a sandwich at Potbelly? That's giardiniera.

Certainly, no other place in the United States cares for giardiniera as much as we do. It exists in every neighborhood, with multiple brands vying for shelf space at grocery stores and many fast food stands mixing up their own batches. When he was growing up in Chicago, giardiniera was a constant presence, says Jimmy Shay, now the meat department manager at Local Foods market in the Clybourn Corridor. "Every Sunday, we'd have the same dishes on the table: a loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese and a jar of giardiniera."

Today, he makes his own giardiniera at the market. "It brings a lot of things to the table: acid, salt and freshness," he says.

Outside of the Chicago area, giardiniera drifts from an essential to an exception rather quickly. Chef Paul Virant, of Vie Restaurant in suburban Western Springs, who included a recipe for giardiniera in his 2012 book, "The Preservation Kitchen," says that he didn't know about the dish until he moved to Chicago. "Being from St. Louis, you just didn't see giardiniera," he says.

As important as it is here, giardiniera wasn't invented in Chicago. It originated in Italy, where it means mixed pickles. Giardiniera also is the name for a female gardener, which is helpful insomuch as it alludes to the vegetables in the mix. According to Jim Graziano, owner of J.P. Graziano Grocery Co., an Italian import company that's been in business in the West Loop since 1937, giardiniera is the Italian way of preserving vegetables from the garden. "That's the main thing," says Graziano. "It was strictly to protect the vegetables for the winter."

Just about every Italian is familiar with giardiniera, says Domenica Marchetti, author of "Preserving Italy," a book about canning and preserving. "Go into a grocery store in Italy, and you'll find all kinds on the shelves," she says.

Though impossible to know the exact date, giardiniera undoubtedly appeared in Chicago along with the wave of Italian immigration that came to the city in the late 19th century.

That's around the time V. Formusa Co., maker of the best-selling giardiniera brand, Marconi, opened. According to general manager Jeff Johnson, the company was founded in 1898 by Vincent Formusa, an immigrant from Termini Imerese, Sicily. "At first, he was importing oil and Italian produce," says Johnson. "Then he got into the Sicilian method of preserving vegetables in oil." While Johnson won't claim that his company was the first to sell giardiniera in Chicago, he believes the company is in "strong contention for at least popularizing it." V. Formusa makes giardiniera under a number of different brands and also makes all the giardiniera for the Portillo's chain.

But Chicago's giardiniera is not a mirror image of what you'll find in most of Italy. There, the vegetables are cut in bigger chunks and typically canned with vinegar instead of oil. (If you encounter giardiniera in other parts of America, it has far more in common with the Italian version.) "I've been looking through my books, and I don't see anything like the Chicago-style giardiniera in Italy," says Marchetti. "A lot of different regions make it, (so) you'd really have to travel all over (the country) before you can unequivocally say that there's nothing like it. But I personally haven't seen it." Johnson, however, calls making giardiniera with vinegar a "Northern Italian method" and says oil is used in Sicily.

Using vinegar versus oil makes a huge difference in the finished product. "When it's packed in vinegar, it's an antipasti thing," says Graziano, best served with sliced charcuterie, olives or cheese. Graziano thinks of the Chicago-style giardiniera as more of a condiment.

Chicago-style giardiniera is also usually pickled for longer. According to Shay of Local Foods, making Chicago-style giardiniera is a two-step process. "First, you pickle the vegetables," he says. Then, "you drain everything, and then cover (the vegetables) with oil." Shay lets the vegetables pickle for two weeks before tossing them in the oil, where he leaves them to infuse for another two weeks.

Since no condiment stands by itself, giardiniera needed a partner in crime before it could catapult to fame here. It found a home as the topping for Italian beef, the classic Chicago sandwich of thinly sliced roast beef that's often served with its roasting juices (or jus). "It's the perfect accompaniment for the Italian beef," says Shay. "That brightness and acidity really cuts through everything."

Much like the Italian version, Chicago-style giardinera has no set recipe, leaving each Italian beef stand owner with his or her own opinion of what goes into the mix. The two most critically acclaimed stands, Al's #1 Italian Beef in Little Italy and Johnnie's Beef in suburban Elmwood Park, offer radically different versions. Al's #1 serves a spare mix of celery and bell peppers, with only some red pepper flakes for heat. Johnnie's Beef goes for a far more abundant version, adding carrots, cauliflower and sport peppers.

J.P. Graziano's house-brand giardiniera includes olives, about the only contentious addition for giardiniera purists. As Jim Graziano readily admits, olives grow on trees, not in a garden, but he loves the flavor they add to the jar. The shop's recipe dates to at least the 1950s, when a woman named Deanna made all of the giardiniera at her house in Cicero. "She made large batches in her basement," says Graziano, noting that regulations at the time were "ridiculously lax." J.P. Graziano continued to purchase the woman's giardiniera until she retired in her mid-90s and sold the recipe to another company. "They started using sliced olives to save money," says Graziano. "It made the whole jar taste like olives." So the Graziano family purchased the recipe and now has the giardiniera made to the original specifications by a company in Ripon, Wis.

While the Italian beef helped spread the gospel of giardiniera, people eventually started putting it on other foods. Johnson, the V. Formusa manager, says there's nothing "much better than a dipped beef with giardiniera," but he also likes it on other dishes, including a simple plate of scrambled eggs. "It works on everything," he says. "It's not even about the spice. That oil holds everything together."

"I love it on subs and pizza," says Virant, the Vie chef, "but one of my go-tos, especially if I don't have time to put something together, is to take a canned fish like herring or sardines, open up the can, add some giardiniera, and then mix it with lettuce, tomatoes and onions. There you go."

One thing everyone I talked to agreed on was that giardiniera is surging in popularity. The companies I talked to didn't have exact data on sales throughout the years but say the numbers have increased dramatically in the last decade.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it.

"In the past 10 years, it's gone from a really niche Chicago thing to a national one," says Jeff Johnson, who estimates that V. Formusa sells around a million pounds of giardiniera a year. "First we saw a growth in the southern Chicago area, and now we are really growing across the country."

Potbelly goes through hundreds of tons of giardiniera a year, estimates Lori Haughey, a vice president for the company (though, again, the chain refers to the condiment as hot peppers). "We sell (our hot peppers) by the 16-ounce jar, and by the tablespoon in sandwiches," says Haughey. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Potbelly is selling Zapp's hot pepper-flavored chips right now.

While Jim Graziano runs a much smaller operation, he says that in recent years, giardiniera sales have accounted for 80 percent of his out-of-town orders. He believes that when locals move away from the area, they are surprised that they can't easily find the condiment, so they get some delivered. These people, in turn, expose others to Chicago-style giardiniera.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it," he says.


How giardiniera crossed an ocean to become Chicago's favorite condiment

Everyone understands the risk of handing a Chicagoan ketchup, so what's the right condiment to pass? That's easy. Giardiniera. (Say it with me, "jar-din-air-ah.") It's the quintessential Chicago condiment, one that's as brazen and boisterous as the city itself.

This fiery mix contains some combination of pickled chiles, celery, cauliflower, carrots and olives submerged in oil. Like an edible exclamation point, giardiniera adds instant heat, crunch and acid to many of our city's iconic foods, including Italian beefs, Italian subs and deep-dish pizza. It's even there when you might not expect it. Ever ask for hot peppers on a sandwich at Potbelly? That's giardiniera.

Certainly, no other place in the United States cares for giardiniera as much as we do. It exists in every neighborhood, with multiple brands vying for shelf space at grocery stores and many fast food stands mixing up their own batches. When he was growing up in Chicago, giardiniera was a constant presence, says Jimmy Shay, now the meat department manager at Local Foods market in the Clybourn Corridor. "Every Sunday, we'd have the same dishes on the table: a loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese and a jar of giardiniera."

Today, he makes his own giardiniera at the market. "It brings a lot of things to the table: acid, salt and freshness," he says.

Outside of the Chicago area, giardiniera drifts from an essential to an exception rather quickly. Chef Paul Virant, of Vie Restaurant in suburban Western Springs, who included a recipe for giardiniera in his 2012 book, "The Preservation Kitchen," says that he didn't know about the dish until he moved to Chicago. "Being from St. Louis, you just didn't see giardiniera," he says.

As important as it is here, giardiniera wasn't invented in Chicago. It originated in Italy, where it means mixed pickles. Giardiniera also is the name for a female gardener, which is helpful insomuch as it alludes to the vegetables in the mix. According to Jim Graziano, owner of J.P. Graziano Grocery Co., an Italian import company that's been in business in the West Loop since 1937, giardiniera is the Italian way of preserving vegetables from the garden. "That's the main thing," says Graziano. "It was strictly to protect the vegetables for the winter."

Just about every Italian is familiar with giardiniera, says Domenica Marchetti, author of "Preserving Italy," a book about canning and preserving. "Go into a grocery store in Italy, and you'll find all kinds on the shelves," she says.

Though impossible to know the exact date, giardiniera undoubtedly appeared in Chicago along with the wave of Italian immigration that came to the city in the late 19th century.

That's around the time V. Formusa Co., maker of the best-selling giardiniera brand, Marconi, opened. According to general manager Jeff Johnson, the company was founded in 1898 by Vincent Formusa, an immigrant from Termini Imerese, Sicily. "At first, he was importing oil and Italian produce," says Johnson. "Then he got into the Sicilian method of preserving vegetables in oil." While Johnson won't claim that his company was the first to sell giardiniera in Chicago, he believes the company is in "strong contention for at least popularizing it." V. Formusa makes giardiniera under a number of different brands and also makes all the giardiniera for the Portillo's chain.

But Chicago's giardiniera is not a mirror image of what you'll find in most of Italy. There, the vegetables are cut in bigger chunks and typically canned with vinegar instead of oil. (If you encounter giardiniera in other parts of America, it has far more in common with the Italian version.) "I've been looking through my books, and I don't see anything like the Chicago-style giardiniera in Italy," says Marchetti. "A lot of different regions make it, (so) you'd really have to travel all over (the country) before you can unequivocally say that there's nothing like it. But I personally haven't seen it." Johnson, however, calls making giardiniera with vinegar a "Northern Italian method" and says oil is used in Sicily.

Using vinegar versus oil makes a huge difference in the finished product. "When it's packed in vinegar, it's an antipasti thing," says Graziano, best served with sliced charcuterie, olives or cheese. Graziano thinks of the Chicago-style giardiniera as more of a condiment.

Chicago-style giardiniera is also usually pickled for longer. According to Shay of Local Foods, making Chicago-style giardiniera is a two-step process. "First, you pickle the vegetables," he says. Then, "you drain everything, and then cover (the vegetables) with oil." Shay lets the vegetables pickle for two weeks before tossing them in the oil, where he leaves them to infuse for another two weeks.

Since no condiment stands by itself, giardiniera needed a partner in crime before it could catapult to fame here. It found a home as the topping for Italian beef, the classic Chicago sandwich of thinly sliced roast beef that's often served with its roasting juices (or jus). "It's the perfect accompaniment for the Italian beef," says Shay. "That brightness and acidity really cuts through everything."

Much like the Italian version, Chicago-style giardinera has no set recipe, leaving each Italian beef stand owner with his or her own opinion of what goes into the mix. The two most critically acclaimed stands, Al's #1 Italian Beef in Little Italy and Johnnie's Beef in suburban Elmwood Park, offer radically different versions. Al's #1 serves a spare mix of celery and bell peppers, with only some red pepper flakes for heat. Johnnie's Beef goes for a far more abundant version, adding carrots, cauliflower and sport peppers.

J.P. Graziano's house-brand giardiniera includes olives, about the only contentious addition for giardiniera purists. As Jim Graziano readily admits, olives grow on trees, not in a garden, but he loves the flavor they add to the jar. The shop's recipe dates to at least the 1950s, when a woman named Deanna made all of the giardiniera at her house in Cicero. "She made large batches in her basement," says Graziano, noting that regulations at the time were "ridiculously lax." J.P. Graziano continued to purchase the woman's giardiniera until she retired in her mid-90s and sold the recipe to another company. "They started using sliced olives to save money," says Graziano. "It made the whole jar taste like olives." So the Graziano family purchased the recipe and now has the giardiniera made to the original specifications by a company in Ripon, Wis.

While the Italian beef helped spread the gospel of giardiniera, people eventually started putting it on other foods. Johnson, the V. Formusa manager, says there's nothing "much better than a dipped beef with giardiniera," but he also likes it on other dishes, including a simple plate of scrambled eggs. "It works on everything," he says. "It's not even about the spice. That oil holds everything together."

"I love it on subs and pizza," says Virant, the Vie chef, "but one of my go-tos, especially if I don't have time to put something together, is to take a canned fish like herring or sardines, open up the can, add some giardiniera, and then mix it with lettuce, tomatoes and onions. There you go."

One thing everyone I talked to agreed on was that giardiniera is surging in popularity. The companies I talked to didn't have exact data on sales throughout the years but say the numbers have increased dramatically in the last decade.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it.

"In the past 10 years, it's gone from a really niche Chicago thing to a national one," says Jeff Johnson, who estimates that V. Formusa sells around a million pounds of giardiniera a year. "First we saw a growth in the southern Chicago area, and now we are really growing across the country."

Potbelly goes through hundreds of tons of giardiniera a year, estimates Lori Haughey, a vice president for the company (though, again, the chain refers to the condiment as hot peppers). "We sell (our hot peppers) by the 16-ounce jar, and by the tablespoon in sandwiches," says Haughey. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Potbelly is selling Zapp's hot pepper-flavored chips right now.

While Jim Graziano runs a much smaller operation, he says that in recent years, giardiniera sales have accounted for 80 percent of his out-of-town orders. He believes that when locals move away from the area, they are surprised that they can't easily find the condiment, so they get some delivered. These people, in turn, expose others to Chicago-style giardiniera.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it," he says.


How giardiniera crossed an ocean to become Chicago's favorite condiment

Everyone understands the risk of handing a Chicagoan ketchup, so what's the right condiment to pass? That's easy. Giardiniera. (Say it with me, "jar-din-air-ah.") It's the quintessential Chicago condiment, one that's as brazen and boisterous as the city itself.

This fiery mix contains some combination of pickled chiles, celery, cauliflower, carrots and olives submerged in oil. Like an edible exclamation point, giardiniera adds instant heat, crunch and acid to many of our city's iconic foods, including Italian beefs, Italian subs and deep-dish pizza. It's even there when you might not expect it. Ever ask for hot peppers on a sandwich at Potbelly? That's giardiniera.

Certainly, no other place in the United States cares for giardiniera as much as we do. It exists in every neighborhood, with multiple brands vying for shelf space at grocery stores and many fast food stands mixing up their own batches. When he was growing up in Chicago, giardiniera was a constant presence, says Jimmy Shay, now the meat department manager at Local Foods market in the Clybourn Corridor. "Every Sunday, we'd have the same dishes on the table: a loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese and a jar of giardiniera."

Today, he makes his own giardiniera at the market. "It brings a lot of things to the table: acid, salt and freshness," he says.

Outside of the Chicago area, giardiniera drifts from an essential to an exception rather quickly. Chef Paul Virant, of Vie Restaurant in suburban Western Springs, who included a recipe for giardiniera in his 2012 book, "The Preservation Kitchen," says that he didn't know about the dish until he moved to Chicago. "Being from St. Louis, you just didn't see giardiniera," he says.

As important as it is here, giardiniera wasn't invented in Chicago. It originated in Italy, where it means mixed pickles. Giardiniera also is the name for a female gardener, which is helpful insomuch as it alludes to the vegetables in the mix. According to Jim Graziano, owner of J.P. Graziano Grocery Co., an Italian import company that's been in business in the West Loop since 1937, giardiniera is the Italian way of preserving vegetables from the garden. "That's the main thing," says Graziano. "It was strictly to protect the vegetables for the winter."

Just about every Italian is familiar with giardiniera, says Domenica Marchetti, author of "Preserving Italy," a book about canning and preserving. "Go into a grocery store in Italy, and you'll find all kinds on the shelves," she says.

Though impossible to know the exact date, giardiniera undoubtedly appeared in Chicago along with the wave of Italian immigration that came to the city in the late 19th century.

That's around the time V. Formusa Co., maker of the best-selling giardiniera brand, Marconi, opened. According to general manager Jeff Johnson, the company was founded in 1898 by Vincent Formusa, an immigrant from Termini Imerese, Sicily. "At first, he was importing oil and Italian produce," says Johnson. "Then he got into the Sicilian method of preserving vegetables in oil." While Johnson won't claim that his company was the first to sell giardiniera in Chicago, he believes the company is in "strong contention for at least popularizing it." V. Formusa makes giardiniera under a number of different brands and also makes all the giardiniera for the Portillo's chain.

But Chicago's giardiniera is not a mirror image of what you'll find in most of Italy. There, the vegetables are cut in bigger chunks and typically canned with vinegar instead of oil. (If you encounter giardiniera in other parts of America, it has far more in common with the Italian version.) "I've been looking through my books, and I don't see anything like the Chicago-style giardiniera in Italy," says Marchetti. "A lot of different regions make it, (so) you'd really have to travel all over (the country) before you can unequivocally say that there's nothing like it. But I personally haven't seen it." Johnson, however, calls making giardiniera with vinegar a "Northern Italian method" and says oil is used in Sicily.

Using vinegar versus oil makes a huge difference in the finished product. "When it's packed in vinegar, it's an antipasti thing," says Graziano, best served with sliced charcuterie, olives or cheese. Graziano thinks of the Chicago-style giardiniera as more of a condiment.

Chicago-style giardiniera is also usually pickled for longer. According to Shay of Local Foods, making Chicago-style giardiniera is a two-step process. "First, you pickle the vegetables," he says. Then, "you drain everything, and then cover (the vegetables) with oil." Shay lets the vegetables pickle for two weeks before tossing them in the oil, where he leaves them to infuse for another two weeks.

Since no condiment stands by itself, giardiniera needed a partner in crime before it could catapult to fame here. It found a home as the topping for Italian beef, the classic Chicago sandwich of thinly sliced roast beef that's often served with its roasting juices (or jus). "It's the perfect accompaniment for the Italian beef," says Shay. "That brightness and acidity really cuts through everything."

Much like the Italian version, Chicago-style giardinera has no set recipe, leaving each Italian beef stand owner with his or her own opinion of what goes into the mix. The two most critically acclaimed stands, Al's #1 Italian Beef in Little Italy and Johnnie's Beef in suburban Elmwood Park, offer radically different versions. Al's #1 serves a spare mix of celery and bell peppers, with only some red pepper flakes for heat. Johnnie's Beef goes for a far more abundant version, adding carrots, cauliflower and sport peppers.

J.P. Graziano's house-brand giardiniera includes olives, about the only contentious addition for giardiniera purists. As Jim Graziano readily admits, olives grow on trees, not in a garden, but he loves the flavor they add to the jar. The shop's recipe dates to at least the 1950s, when a woman named Deanna made all of the giardiniera at her house in Cicero. "She made large batches in her basement," says Graziano, noting that regulations at the time were "ridiculously lax." J.P. Graziano continued to purchase the woman's giardiniera until she retired in her mid-90s and sold the recipe to another company. "They started using sliced olives to save money," says Graziano. "It made the whole jar taste like olives." So the Graziano family purchased the recipe and now has the giardiniera made to the original specifications by a company in Ripon, Wis.

While the Italian beef helped spread the gospel of giardiniera, people eventually started putting it on other foods. Johnson, the V. Formusa manager, says there's nothing "much better than a dipped beef with giardiniera," but he also likes it on other dishes, including a simple plate of scrambled eggs. "It works on everything," he says. "It's not even about the spice. That oil holds everything together."

"I love it on subs and pizza," says Virant, the Vie chef, "but one of my go-tos, especially if I don't have time to put something together, is to take a canned fish like herring or sardines, open up the can, add some giardiniera, and then mix it with lettuce, tomatoes and onions. There you go."

One thing everyone I talked to agreed on was that giardiniera is surging in popularity. The companies I talked to didn't have exact data on sales throughout the years but say the numbers have increased dramatically in the last decade.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it.

"In the past 10 years, it's gone from a really niche Chicago thing to a national one," says Jeff Johnson, who estimates that V. Formusa sells around a million pounds of giardiniera a year. "First we saw a growth in the southern Chicago area, and now we are really growing across the country."

Potbelly goes through hundreds of tons of giardiniera a year, estimates Lori Haughey, a vice president for the company (though, again, the chain refers to the condiment as hot peppers). "We sell (our hot peppers) by the 16-ounce jar, and by the tablespoon in sandwiches," says Haughey. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Potbelly is selling Zapp's hot pepper-flavored chips right now.

While Jim Graziano runs a much smaller operation, he says that in recent years, giardiniera sales have accounted for 80 percent of his out-of-town orders. He believes that when locals move away from the area, they are surprised that they can't easily find the condiment, so they get some delivered. These people, in turn, expose others to Chicago-style giardiniera.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it," he says.


How giardiniera crossed an ocean to become Chicago's favorite condiment

Everyone understands the risk of handing a Chicagoan ketchup, so what's the right condiment to pass? That's easy. Giardiniera. (Say it with me, "jar-din-air-ah.") It's the quintessential Chicago condiment, one that's as brazen and boisterous as the city itself.

This fiery mix contains some combination of pickled chiles, celery, cauliflower, carrots and olives submerged in oil. Like an edible exclamation point, giardiniera adds instant heat, crunch and acid to many of our city's iconic foods, including Italian beefs, Italian subs and deep-dish pizza. It's even there when you might not expect it. Ever ask for hot peppers on a sandwich at Potbelly? That's giardiniera.

Certainly, no other place in the United States cares for giardiniera as much as we do. It exists in every neighborhood, with multiple brands vying for shelf space at grocery stores and many fast food stands mixing up their own batches. When he was growing up in Chicago, giardiniera was a constant presence, says Jimmy Shay, now the meat department manager at Local Foods market in the Clybourn Corridor. "Every Sunday, we'd have the same dishes on the table: a loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese and a jar of giardiniera."

Today, he makes his own giardiniera at the market. "It brings a lot of things to the table: acid, salt and freshness," he says.

Outside of the Chicago area, giardiniera drifts from an essential to an exception rather quickly. Chef Paul Virant, of Vie Restaurant in suburban Western Springs, who included a recipe for giardiniera in his 2012 book, "The Preservation Kitchen," says that he didn't know about the dish until he moved to Chicago. "Being from St. Louis, you just didn't see giardiniera," he says.

As important as it is here, giardiniera wasn't invented in Chicago. It originated in Italy, where it means mixed pickles. Giardiniera also is the name for a female gardener, which is helpful insomuch as it alludes to the vegetables in the mix. According to Jim Graziano, owner of J.P. Graziano Grocery Co., an Italian import company that's been in business in the West Loop since 1937, giardiniera is the Italian way of preserving vegetables from the garden. "That's the main thing," says Graziano. "It was strictly to protect the vegetables for the winter."

Just about every Italian is familiar with giardiniera, says Domenica Marchetti, author of "Preserving Italy," a book about canning and preserving. "Go into a grocery store in Italy, and you'll find all kinds on the shelves," she says.

Though impossible to know the exact date, giardiniera undoubtedly appeared in Chicago along with the wave of Italian immigration that came to the city in the late 19th century.

That's around the time V. Formusa Co., maker of the best-selling giardiniera brand, Marconi, opened. According to general manager Jeff Johnson, the company was founded in 1898 by Vincent Formusa, an immigrant from Termini Imerese, Sicily. "At first, he was importing oil and Italian produce," says Johnson. "Then he got into the Sicilian method of preserving vegetables in oil." While Johnson won't claim that his company was the first to sell giardiniera in Chicago, he believes the company is in "strong contention for at least popularizing it." V. Formusa makes giardiniera under a number of different brands and also makes all the giardiniera for the Portillo's chain.

But Chicago's giardiniera is not a mirror image of what you'll find in most of Italy. There, the vegetables are cut in bigger chunks and typically canned with vinegar instead of oil. (If you encounter giardiniera in other parts of America, it has far more in common with the Italian version.) "I've been looking through my books, and I don't see anything like the Chicago-style giardiniera in Italy," says Marchetti. "A lot of different regions make it, (so) you'd really have to travel all over (the country) before you can unequivocally say that there's nothing like it. But I personally haven't seen it." Johnson, however, calls making giardiniera with vinegar a "Northern Italian method" and says oil is used in Sicily.

Using vinegar versus oil makes a huge difference in the finished product. "When it's packed in vinegar, it's an antipasti thing," says Graziano, best served with sliced charcuterie, olives or cheese. Graziano thinks of the Chicago-style giardiniera as more of a condiment.

Chicago-style giardiniera is also usually pickled for longer. According to Shay of Local Foods, making Chicago-style giardiniera is a two-step process. "First, you pickle the vegetables," he says. Then, "you drain everything, and then cover (the vegetables) with oil." Shay lets the vegetables pickle for two weeks before tossing them in the oil, where he leaves them to infuse for another two weeks.

Since no condiment stands by itself, giardiniera needed a partner in crime before it could catapult to fame here. It found a home as the topping for Italian beef, the classic Chicago sandwich of thinly sliced roast beef that's often served with its roasting juices (or jus). "It's the perfect accompaniment for the Italian beef," says Shay. "That brightness and acidity really cuts through everything."

Much like the Italian version, Chicago-style giardinera has no set recipe, leaving each Italian beef stand owner with his or her own opinion of what goes into the mix. The two most critically acclaimed stands, Al's #1 Italian Beef in Little Italy and Johnnie's Beef in suburban Elmwood Park, offer radically different versions. Al's #1 serves a spare mix of celery and bell peppers, with only some red pepper flakes for heat. Johnnie's Beef goes for a far more abundant version, adding carrots, cauliflower and sport peppers.

J.P. Graziano's house-brand giardiniera includes olives, about the only contentious addition for giardiniera purists. As Jim Graziano readily admits, olives grow on trees, not in a garden, but he loves the flavor they add to the jar. The shop's recipe dates to at least the 1950s, when a woman named Deanna made all of the giardiniera at her house in Cicero. "She made large batches in her basement," says Graziano, noting that regulations at the time were "ridiculously lax." J.P. Graziano continued to purchase the woman's giardiniera until she retired in her mid-90s and sold the recipe to another company. "They started using sliced olives to save money," says Graziano. "It made the whole jar taste like olives." So the Graziano family purchased the recipe and now has the giardiniera made to the original specifications by a company in Ripon, Wis.

While the Italian beef helped spread the gospel of giardiniera, people eventually started putting it on other foods. Johnson, the V. Formusa manager, says there's nothing "much better than a dipped beef with giardiniera," but he also likes it on other dishes, including a simple plate of scrambled eggs. "It works on everything," he says. "It's not even about the spice. That oil holds everything together."

"I love it on subs and pizza," says Virant, the Vie chef, "but one of my go-tos, especially if I don't have time to put something together, is to take a canned fish like herring or sardines, open up the can, add some giardiniera, and then mix it with lettuce, tomatoes and onions. There you go."

One thing everyone I talked to agreed on was that giardiniera is surging in popularity. The companies I talked to didn't have exact data on sales throughout the years but say the numbers have increased dramatically in the last decade.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it.

"In the past 10 years, it's gone from a really niche Chicago thing to a national one," says Jeff Johnson, who estimates that V. Formusa sells around a million pounds of giardiniera a year. "First we saw a growth in the southern Chicago area, and now we are really growing across the country."

Potbelly goes through hundreds of tons of giardiniera a year, estimates Lori Haughey, a vice president for the company (though, again, the chain refers to the condiment as hot peppers). "We sell (our hot peppers) by the 16-ounce jar, and by the tablespoon in sandwiches," says Haughey. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Potbelly is selling Zapp's hot pepper-flavored chips right now.

While Jim Graziano runs a much smaller operation, he says that in recent years, giardiniera sales have accounted for 80 percent of his out-of-town orders. He believes that when locals move away from the area, they are surprised that they can't easily find the condiment, so they get some delivered. These people, in turn, expose others to Chicago-style giardiniera.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it," he says.


How giardiniera crossed an ocean to become Chicago's favorite condiment

Everyone understands the risk of handing a Chicagoan ketchup, so what's the right condiment to pass? That's easy. Giardiniera. (Say it with me, "jar-din-air-ah.") It's the quintessential Chicago condiment, one that's as brazen and boisterous as the city itself.

This fiery mix contains some combination of pickled chiles, celery, cauliflower, carrots and olives submerged in oil. Like an edible exclamation point, giardiniera adds instant heat, crunch and acid to many of our city's iconic foods, including Italian beefs, Italian subs and deep-dish pizza. It's even there when you might not expect it. Ever ask for hot peppers on a sandwich at Potbelly? That's giardiniera.

Certainly, no other place in the United States cares for giardiniera as much as we do. It exists in every neighborhood, with multiple brands vying for shelf space at grocery stores and many fast food stands mixing up their own batches. When he was growing up in Chicago, giardiniera was a constant presence, says Jimmy Shay, now the meat department manager at Local Foods market in the Clybourn Corridor. "Every Sunday, we'd have the same dishes on the table: a loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese and a jar of giardiniera."

Today, he makes his own giardiniera at the market. "It brings a lot of things to the table: acid, salt and freshness," he says.

Outside of the Chicago area, giardiniera drifts from an essential to an exception rather quickly. Chef Paul Virant, of Vie Restaurant in suburban Western Springs, who included a recipe for giardiniera in his 2012 book, "The Preservation Kitchen," says that he didn't know about the dish until he moved to Chicago. "Being from St. Louis, you just didn't see giardiniera," he says.

As important as it is here, giardiniera wasn't invented in Chicago. It originated in Italy, where it means mixed pickles. Giardiniera also is the name for a female gardener, which is helpful insomuch as it alludes to the vegetables in the mix. According to Jim Graziano, owner of J.P. Graziano Grocery Co., an Italian import company that's been in business in the West Loop since 1937, giardiniera is the Italian way of preserving vegetables from the garden. "That's the main thing," says Graziano. "It was strictly to protect the vegetables for the winter."

Just about every Italian is familiar with giardiniera, says Domenica Marchetti, author of "Preserving Italy," a book about canning and preserving. "Go into a grocery store in Italy, and you'll find all kinds on the shelves," she says.

Though impossible to know the exact date, giardiniera undoubtedly appeared in Chicago along with the wave of Italian immigration that came to the city in the late 19th century.

That's around the time V. Formusa Co., maker of the best-selling giardiniera brand, Marconi, opened. According to general manager Jeff Johnson, the company was founded in 1898 by Vincent Formusa, an immigrant from Termini Imerese, Sicily. "At first, he was importing oil and Italian produce," says Johnson. "Then he got into the Sicilian method of preserving vegetables in oil." While Johnson won't claim that his company was the first to sell giardiniera in Chicago, he believes the company is in "strong contention for at least popularizing it." V. Formusa makes giardiniera under a number of different brands and also makes all the giardiniera for the Portillo's chain.

But Chicago's giardiniera is not a mirror image of what you'll find in most of Italy. There, the vegetables are cut in bigger chunks and typically canned with vinegar instead of oil. (If you encounter giardiniera in other parts of America, it has far more in common with the Italian version.) "I've been looking through my books, and I don't see anything like the Chicago-style giardiniera in Italy," says Marchetti. "A lot of different regions make it, (so) you'd really have to travel all over (the country) before you can unequivocally say that there's nothing like it. But I personally haven't seen it." Johnson, however, calls making giardiniera with vinegar a "Northern Italian method" and says oil is used in Sicily.

Using vinegar versus oil makes a huge difference in the finished product. "When it's packed in vinegar, it's an antipasti thing," says Graziano, best served with sliced charcuterie, olives or cheese. Graziano thinks of the Chicago-style giardiniera as more of a condiment.

Chicago-style giardiniera is also usually pickled for longer. According to Shay of Local Foods, making Chicago-style giardiniera is a two-step process. "First, you pickle the vegetables," he says. Then, "you drain everything, and then cover (the vegetables) with oil." Shay lets the vegetables pickle for two weeks before tossing them in the oil, where he leaves them to infuse for another two weeks.

Since no condiment stands by itself, giardiniera needed a partner in crime before it could catapult to fame here. It found a home as the topping for Italian beef, the classic Chicago sandwich of thinly sliced roast beef that's often served with its roasting juices (or jus). "It's the perfect accompaniment for the Italian beef," says Shay. "That brightness and acidity really cuts through everything."

Much like the Italian version, Chicago-style giardinera has no set recipe, leaving each Italian beef stand owner with his or her own opinion of what goes into the mix. The two most critically acclaimed stands, Al's #1 Italian Beef in Little Italy and Johnnie's Beef in suburban Elmwood Park, offer radically different versions. Al's #1 serves a spare mix of celery and bell peppers, with only some red pepper flakes for heat. Johnnie's Beef goes for a far more abundant version, adding carrots, cauliflower and sport peppers.

J.P. Graziano's house-brand giardiniera includes olives, about the only contentious addition for giardiniera purists. As Jim Graziano readily admits, olives grow on trees, not in a garden, but he loves the flavor they add to the jar. The shop's recipe dates to at least the 1950s, when a woman named Deanna made all of the giardiniera at her house in Cicero. "She made large batches in her basement," says Graziano, noting that regulations at the time were "ridiculously lax." J.P. Graziano continued to purchase the woman's giardiniera until she retired in her mid-90s and sold the recipe to another company. "They started using sliced olives to save money," says Graziano. "It made the whole jar taste like olives." So the Graziano family purchased the recipe and now has the giardiniera made to the original specifications by a company in Ripon, Wis.

While the Italian beef helped spread the gospel of giardiniera, people eventually started putting it on other foods. Johnson, the V. Formusa manager, says there's nothing "much better than a dipped beef with giardiniera," but he also likes it on other dishes, including a simple plate of scrambled eggs. "It works on everything," he says. "It's not even about the spice. That oil holds everything together."

"I love it on subs and pizza," says Virant, the Vie chef, "but one of my go-tos, especially if I don't have time to put something together, is to take a canned fish like herring or sardines, open up the can, add some giardiniera, and then mix it with lettuce, tomatoes and onions. There you go."

One thing everyone I talked to agreed on was that giardiniera is surging in popularity. The companies I talked to didn't have exact data on sales throughout the years but say the numbers have increased dramatically in the last decade.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it.

"In the past 10 years, it's gone from a really niche Chicago thing to a national one," says Jeff Johnson, who estimates that V. Formusa sells around a million pounds of giardiniera a year. "First we saw a growth in the southern Chicago area, and now we are really growing across the country."

Potbelly goes through hundreds of tons of giardiniera a year, estimates Lori Haughey, a vice president for the company (though, again, the chain refers to the condiment as hot peppers). "We sell (our hot peppers) by the 16-ounce jar, and by the tablespoon in sandwiches," says Haughey. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Potbelly is selling Zapp's hot pepper-flavored chips right now.

While Jim Graziano runs a much smaller operation, he says that in recent years, giardiniera sales have accounted for 80 percent of his out-of-town orders. He believes that when locals move away from the area, they are surprised that they can't easily find the condiment, so they get some delivered. These people, in turn, expose others to Chicago-style giardiniera.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it," he says.


How giardiniera crossed an ocean to become Chicago's favorite condiment

Everyone understands the risk of handing a Chicagoan ketchup, so what's the right condiment to pass? That's easy. Giardiniera. (Say it with me, "jar-din-air-ah.") It's the quintessential Chicago condiment, one that's as brazen and boisterous as the city itself.

This fiery mix contains some combination of pickled chiles, celery, cauliflower, carrots and olives submerged in oil. Like an edible exclamation point, giardiniera adds instant heat, crunch and acid to many of our city's iconic foods, including Italian beefs, Italian subs and deep-dish pizza. It's even there when you might not expect it. Ever ask for hot peppers on a sandwich at Potbelly? That's giardiniera.

Certainly, no other place in the United States cares for giardiniera as much as we do. It exists in every neighborhood, with multiple brands vying for shelf space at grocery stores and many fast food stands mixing up their own batches. When he was growing up in Chicago, giardiniera was a constant presence, says Jimmy Shay, now the meat department manager at Local Foods market in the Clybourn Corridor. "Every Sunday, we'd have the same dishes on the table: a loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese and a jar of giardiniera."

Today, he makes his own giardiniera at the market. "It brings a lot of things to the table: acid, salt and freshness," he says.

Outside of the Chicago area, giardiniera drifts from an essential to an exception rather quickly. Chef Paul Virant, of Vie Restaurant in suburban Western Springs, who included a recipe for giardiniera in his 2012 book, "The Preservation Kitchen," says that he didn't know about the dish until he moved to Chicago. "Being from St. Louis, you just didn't see giardiniera," he says.

As important as it is here, giardiniera wasn't invented in Chicago. It originated in Italy, where it means mixed pickles. Giardiniera also is the name for a female gardener, which is helpful insomuch as it alludes to the vegetables in the mix. According to Jim Graziano, owner of J.P. Graziano Grocery Co., an Italian import company that's been in business in the West Loop since 1937, giardiniera is the Italian way of preserving vegetables from the garden. "That's the main thing," says Graziano. "It was strictly to protect the vegetables for the winter."

Just about every Italian is familiar with giardiniera, says Domenica Marchetti, author of "Preserving Italy," a book about canning and preserving. "Go into a grocery store in Italy, and you'll find all kinds on the shelves," she says.

Though impossible to know the exact date, giardiniera undoubtedly appeared in Chicago along with the wave of Italian immigration that came to the city in the late 19th century.

That's around the time V. Formusa Co., maker of the best-selling giardiniera brand, Marconi, opened. According to general manager Jeff Johnson, the company was founded in 1898 by Vincent Formusa, an immigrant from Termini Imerese, Sicily. "At first, he was importing oil and Italian produce," says Johnson. "Then he got into the Sicilian method of preserving vegetables in oil." While Johnson won't claim that his company was the first to sell giardiniera in Chicago, he believes the company is in "strong contention for at least popularizing it." V. Formusa makes giardiniera under a number of different brands and also makes all the giardiniera for the Portillo's chain.

But Chicago's giardiniera is not a mirror image of what you'll find in most of Italy. There, the vegetables are cut in bigger chunks and typically canned with vinegar instead of oil. (If you encounter giardiniera in other parts of America, it has far more in common with the Italian version.) "I've been looking through my books, and I don't see anything like the Chicago-style giardiniera in Italy," says Marchetti. "A lot of different regions make it, (so) you'd really have to travel all over (the country) before you can unequivocally say that there's nothing like it. But I personally haven't seen it." Johnson, however, calls making giardiniera with vinegar a "Northern Italian method" and says oil is used in Sicily.

Using vinegar versus oil makes a huge difference in the finished product. "When it's packed in vinegar, it's an antipasti thing," says Graziano, best served with sliced charcuterie, olives or cheese. Graziano thinks of the Chicago-style giardiniera as more of a condiment.

Chicago-style giardiniera is also usually pickled for longer. According to Shay of Local Foods, making Chicago-style giardiniera is a two-step process. "First, you pickle the vegetables," he says. Then, "you drain everything, and then cover (the vegetables) with oil." Shay lets the vegetables pickle for two weeks before tossing them in the oil, where he leaves them to infuse for another two weeks.

Since no condiment stands by itself, giardiniera needed a partner in crime before it could catapult to fame here. It found a home as the topping for Italian beef, the classic Chicago sandwich of thinly sliced roast beef that's often served with its roasting juices (or jus). "It's the perfect accompaniment for the Italian beef," says Shay. "That brightness and acidity really cuts through everything."

Much like the Italian version, Chicago-style giardinera has no set recipe, leaving each Italian beef stand owner with his or her own opinion of what goes into the mix. The two most critically acclaimed stands, Al's #1 Italian Beef in Little Italy and Johnnie's Beef in suburban Elmwood Park, offer radically different versions. Al's #1 serves a spare mix of celery and bell peppers, with only some red pepper flakes for heat. Johnnie's Beef goes for a far more abundant version, adding carrots, cauliflower and sport peppers.

J.P. Graziano's house-brand giardiniera includes olives, about the only contentious addition for giardiniera purists. As Jim Graziano readily admits, olives grow on trees, not in a garden, but he loves the flavor they add to the jar. The shop's recipe dates to at least the 1950s, when a woman named Deanna made all of the giardiniera at her house in Cicero. "She made large batches in her basement," says Graziano, noting that regulations at the time were "ridiculously lax." J.P. Graziano continued to purchase the woman's giardiniera until she retired in her mid-90s and sold the recipe to another company. "They started using sliced olives to save money," says Graziano. "It made the whole jar taste like olives." So the Graziano family purchased the recipe and now has the giardiniera made to the original specifications by a company in Ripon, Wis.

While the Italian beef helped spread the gospel of giardiniera, people eventually started putting it on other foods. Johnson, the V. Formusa manager, says there's nothing "much better than a dipped beef with giardiniera," but he also likes it on other dishes, including a simple plate of scrambled eggs. "It works on everything," he says. "It's not even about the spice. That oil holds everything together."

"I love it on subs and pizza," says Virant, the Vie chef, "but one of my go-tos, especially if I don't have time to put something together, is to take a canned fish like herring or sardines, open up the can, add some giardiniera, and then mix it with lettuce, tomatoes and onions. There you go."

One thing everyone I talked to agreed on was that giardiniera is surging in popularity. The companies I talked to didn't have exact data on sales throughout the years but say the numbers have increased dramatically in the last decade.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it.

"In the past 10 years, it's gone from a really niche Chicago thing to a national one," says Jeff Johnson, who estimates that V. Formusa sells around a million pounds of giardiniera a year. "First we saw a growth in the southern Chicago area, and now we are really growing across the country."

Potbelly goes through hundreds of tons of giardiniera a year, estimates Lori Haughey, a vice president for the company (though, again, the chain refers to the condiment as hot peppers). "We sell (our hot peppers) by the 16-ounce jar, and by the tablespoon in sandwiches," says Haughey. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Potbelly is selling Zapp's hot pepper-flavored chips right now.

While Jim Graziano runs a much smaller operation, he says that in recent years, giardiniera sales have accounted for 80 percent of his out-of-town orders. He believes that when locals move away from the area, they are surprised that they can't easily find the condiment, so they get some delivered. These people, in turn, expose others to Chicago-style giardiniera.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it," he says.


How giardiniera crossed an ocean to become Chicago's favorite condiment

Everyone understands the risk of handing a Chicagoan ketchup, so what's the right condiment to pass? That's easy. Giardiniera. (Say it with me, "jar-din-air-ah.") It's the quintessential Chicago condiment, one that's as brazen and boisterous as the city itself.

This fiery mix contains some combination of pickled chiles, celery, cauliflower, carrots and olives submerged in oil. Like an edible exclamation point, giardiniera adds instant heat, crunch and acid to many of our city's iconic foods, including Italian beefs, Italian subs and deep-dish pizza. It's even there when you might not expect it. Ever ask for hot peppers on a sandwich at Potbelly? That's giardiniera.

Certainly, no other place in the United States cares for giardiniera as much as we do. It exists in every neighborhood, with multiple brands vying for shelf space at grocery stores and many fast food stands mixing up their own batches. When he was growing up in Chicago, giardiniera was a constant presence, says Jimmy Shay, now the meat department manager at Local Foods market in the Clybourn Corridor. "Every Sunday, we'd have the same dishes on the table: a loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese and a jar of giardiniera."

Today, he makes his own giardiniera at the market. "It brings a lot of things to the table: acid, salt and freshness," he says.

Outside of the Chicago area, giardiniera drifts from an essential to an exception rather quickly. Chef Paul Virant, of Vie Restaurant in suburban Western Springs, who included a recipe for giardiniera in his 2012 book, "The Preservation Kitchen," says that he didn't know about the dish until he moved to Chicago. "Being from St. Louis, you just didn't see giardiniera," he says.

As important as it is here, giardiniera wasn't invented in Chicago. It originated in Italy, where it means mixed pickles. Giardiniera also is the name for a female gardener, which is helpful insomuch as it alludes to the vegetables in the mix. According to Jim Graziano, owner of J.P. Graziano Grocery Co., an Italian import company that's been in business in the West Loop since 1937, giardiniera is the Italian way of preserving vegetables from the garden. "That's the main thing," says Graziano. "It was strictly to protect the vegetables for the winter."

Just about every Italian is familiar with giardiniera, says Domenica Marchetti, author of "Preserving Italy," a book about canning and preserving. "Go into a grocery store in Italy, and you'll find all kinds on the shelves," she says.

Though impossible to know the exact date, giardiniera undoubtedly appeared in Chicago along with the wave of Italian immigration that came to the city in the late 19th century.

That's around the time V. Formusa Co., maker of the best-selling giardiniera brand, Marconi, opened. According to general manager Jeff Johnson, the company was founded in 1898 by Vincent Formusa, an immigrant from Termini Imerese, Sicily. "At first, he was importing oil and Italian produce," says Johnson. "Then he got into the Sicilian method of preserving vegetables in oil." While Johnson won't claim that his company was the first to sell giardiniera in Chicago, he believes the company is in "strong contention for at least popularizing it." V. Formusa makes giardiniera under a number of different brands and also makes all the giardiniera for the Portillo's chain.

But Chicago's giardiniera is not a mirror image of what you'll find in most of Italy. There, the vegetables are cut in bigger chunks and typically canned with vinegar instead of oil. (If you encounter giardiniera in other parts of America, it has far more in common with the Italian version.) "I've been looking through my books, and I don't see anything like the Chicago-style giardiniera in Italy," says Marchetti. "A lot of different regions make it, (so) you'd really have to travel all over (the country) before you can unequivocally say that there's nothing like it. But I personally haven't seen it." Johnson, however, calls making giardiniera with vinegar a "Northern Italian method" and says oil is used in Sicily.

Using vinegar versus oil makes a huge difference in the finished product. "When it's packed in vinegar, it's an antipasti thing," says Graziano, best served with sliced charcuterie, olives or cheese. Graziano thinks of the Chicago-style giardiniera as more of a condiment.

Chicago-style giardiniera is also usually pickled for longer. According to Shay of Local Foods, making Chicago-style giardiniera is a two-step process. "First, you pickle the vegetables," he says. Then, "you drain everything, and then cover (the vegetables) with oil." Shay lets the vegetables pickle for two weeks before tossing them in the oil, where he leaves them to infuse for another two weeks.

Since no condiment stands by itself, giardiniera needed a partner in crime before it could catapult to fame here. It found a home as the topping for Italian beef, the classic Chicago sandwich of thinly sliced roast beef that's often served with its roasting juices (or jus). "It's the perfect accompaniment for the Italian beef," says Shay. "That brightness and acidity really cuts through everything."

Much like the Italian version, Chicago-style giardinera has no set recipe, leaving each Italian beef stand owner with his or her own opinion of what goes into the mix. The two most critically acclaimed stands, Al's #1 Italian Beef in Little Italy and Johnnie's Beef in suburban Elmwood Park, offer radically different versions. Al's #1 serves a spare mix of celery and bell peppers, with only some red pepper flakes for heat. Johnnie's Beef goes for a far more abundant version, adding carrots, cauliflower and sport peppers.

J.P. Graziano's house-brand giardiniera includes olives, about the only contentious addition for giardiniera purists. As Jim Graziano readily admits, olives grow on trees, not in a garden, but he loves the flavor they add to the jar. The shop's recipe dates to at least the 1950s, when a woman named Deanna made all of the giardiniera at her house in Cicero. "She made large batches in her basement," says Graziano, noting that regulations at the time were "ridiculously lax." J.P. Graziano continued to purchase the woman's giardiniera until she retired in her mid-90s and sold the recipe to another company. "They started using sliced olives to save money," says Graziano. "It made the whole jar taste like olives." So the Graziano family purchased the recipe and now has the giardiniera made to the original specifications by a company in Ripon, Wis.

While the Italian beef helped spread the gospel of giardiniera, people eventually started putting it on other foods. Johnson, the V. Formusa manager, says there's nothing "much better than a dipped beef with giardiniera," but he also likes it on other dishes, including a simple plate of scrambled eggs. "It works on everything," he says. "It's not even about the spice. That oil holds everything together."

"I love it on subs and pizza," says Virant, the Vie chef, "but one of my go-tos, especially if I don't have time to put something together, is to take a canned fish like herring or sardines, open up the can, add some giardiniera, and then mix it with lettuce, tomatoes and onions. There you go."

One thing everyone I talked to agreed on was that giardiniera is surging in popularity. The companies I talked to didn't have exact data on sales throughout the years but say the numbers have increased dramatically in the last decade.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it.

"In the past 10 years, it's gone from a really niche Chicago thing to a national one," says Jeff Johnson, who estimates that V. Formusa sells around a million pounds of giardiniera a year. "First we saw a growth in the southern Chicago area, and now we are really growing across the country."

Potbelly goes through hundreds of tons of giardiniera a year, estimates Lori Haughey, a vice president for the company (though, again, the chain refers to the condiment as hot peppers). "We sell (our hot peppers) by the 16-ounce jar, and by the tablespoon in sandwiches," says Haughey. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Potbelly is selling Zapp's hot pepper-flavored chips right now.

While Jim Graziano runs a much smaller operation, he says that in recent years, giardiniera sales have accounted for 80 percent of his out-of-town orders. He believes that when locals move away from the area, they are surprised that they can't easily find the condiment, so they get some delivered. These people, in turn, expose others to Chicago-style giardiniera.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it," he says.


How giardiniera crossed an ocean to become Chicago's favorite condiment

Everyone understands the risk of handing a Chicagoan ketchup, so what's the right condiment to pass? That's easy. Giardiniera. (Say it with me, "jar-din-air-ah.") It's the quintessential Chicago condiment, one that's as brazen and boisterous as the city itself.

This fiery mix contains some combination of pickled chiles, celery, cauliflower, carrots and olives submerged in oil. Like an edible exclamation point, giardiniera adds instant heat, crunch and acid to many of our city's iconic foods, including Italian beefs, Italian subs and deep-dish pizza. It's even there when you might not expect it. Ever ask for hot peppers on a sandwich at Potbelly? That's giardiniera.

Certainly, no other place in the United States cares for giardiniera as much as we do. It exists in every neighborhood, with multiple brands vying for shelf space at grocery stores and many fast food stands mixing up their own batches. When he was growing up in Chicago, giardiniera was a constant presence, says Jimmy Shay, now the meat department manager at Local Foods market in the Clybourn Corridor. "Every Sunday, we'd have the same dishes on the table: a loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese and a jar of giardiniera."

Today, he makes his own giardiniera at the market. "It brings a lot of things to the table: acid, salt and freshness," he says.

Outside of the Chicago area, giardiniera drifts from an essential to an exception rather quickly. Chef Paul Virant, of Vie Restaurant in suburban Western Springs, who included a recipe for giardiniera in his 2012 book, "The Preservation Kitchen," says that he didn't know about the dish until he moved to Chicago. "Being from St. Louis, you just didn't see giardiniera," he says.

As important as it is here, giardiniera wasn't invented in Chicago. It originated in Italy, where it means mixed pickles. Giardiniera also is the name for a female gardener, which is helpful insomuch as it alludes to the vegetables in the mix. According to Jim Graziano, owner of J.P. Graziano Grocery Co., an Italian import company that's been in business in the West Loop since 1937, giardiniera is the Italian way of preserving vegetables from the garden. "That's the main thing," says Graziano. "It was strictly to protect the vegetables for the winter."

Just about every Italian is familiar with giardiniera, says Domenica Marchetti, author of "Preserving Italy," a book about canning and preserving. "Go into a grocery store in Italy, and you'll find all kinds on the shelves," she says.

Though impossible to know the exact date, giardiniera undoubtedly appeared in Chicago along with the wave of Italian immigration that came to the city in the late 19th century.

That's around the time V. Formusa Co., maker of the best-selling giardiniera brand, Marconi, opened. According to general manager Jeff Johnson, the company was founded in 1898 by Vincent Formusa, an immigrant from Termini Imerese, Sicily. "At first, he was importing oil and Italian produce," says Johnson. "Then he got into the Sicilian method of preserving vegetables in oil." While Johnson won't claim that his company was the first to sell giardiniera in Chicago, he believes the company is in "strong contention for at least popularizing it." V. Formusa makes giardiniera under a number of different brands and also makes all the giardiniera for the Portillo's chain.

But Chicago's giardiniera is not a mirror image of what you'll find in most of Italy. There, the vegetables are cut in bigger chunks and typically canned with vinegar instead of oil. (If you encounter giardiniera in other parts of America, it has far more in common with the Italian version.) "I've been looking through my books, and I don't see anything like the Chicago-style giardiniera in Italy," says Marchetti. "A lot of different regions make it, (so) you'd really have to travel all over (the country) before you can unequivocally say that there's nothing like it. But I personally haven't seen it." Johnson, however, calls making giardiniera with vinegar a "Northern Italian method" and says oil is used in Sicily.

Using vinegar versus oil makes a huge difference in the finished product. "When it's packed in vinegar, it's an antipasti thing," says Graziano, best served with sliced charcuterie, olives or cheese. Graziano thinks of the Chicago-style giardiniera as more of a condiment.

Chicago-style giardiniera is also usually pickled for longer. According to Shay of Local Foods, making Chicago-style giardiniera is a two-step process. "First, you pickle the vegetables," he says. Then, "you drain everything, and then cover (the vegetables) with oil." Shay lets the vegetables pickle for two weeks before tossing them in the oil, where he leaves them to infuse for another two weeks.

Since no condiment stands by itself, giardiniera needed a partner in crime before it could catapult to fame here. It found a home as the topping for Italian beef, the classic Chicago sandwich of thinly sliced roast beef that's often served with its roasting juices (or jus). "It's the perfect accompaniment for the Italian beef," says Shay. "That brightness and acidity really cuts through everything."

Much like the Italian version, Chicago-style giardinera has no set recipe, leaving each Italian beef stand owner with his or her own opinion of what goes into the mix. The two most critically acclaimed stands, Al's #1 Italian Beef in Little Italy and Johnnie's Beef in suburban Elmwood Park, offer radically different versions. Al's #1 serves a spare mix of celery and bell peppers, with only some red pepper flakes for heat. Johnnie's Beef goes for a far more abundant version, adding carrots, cauliflower and sport peppers.

J.P. Graziano's house-brand giardiniera includes olives, about the only contentious addition for giardiniera purists. As Jim Graziano readily admits, olives grow on trees, not in a garden, but he loves the flavor they add to the jar. The shop's recipe dates to at least the 1950s, when a woman named Deanna made all of the giardiniera at her house in Cicero. "She made large batches in her basement," says Graziano, noting that regulations at the time were "ridiculously lax." J.P. Graziano continued to purchase the woman's giardiniera until she retired in her mid-90s and sold the recipe to another company. "They started using sliced olives to save money," says Graziano. "It made the whole jar taste like olives." So the Graziano family purchased the recipe and now has the giardiniera made to the original specifications by a company in Ripon, Wis.

While the Italian beef helped spread the gospel of giardiniera, people eventually started putting it on other foods. Johnson, the V. Formusa manager, says there's nothing "much better than a dipped beef with giardiniera," but he also likes it on other dishes, including a simple plate of scrambled eggs. "It works on everything," he says. "It's not even about the spice. That oil holds everything together."

"I love it on subs and pizza," says Virant, the Vie chef, "but one of my go-tos, especially if I don't have time to put something together, is to take a canned fish like herring or sardines, open up the can, add some giardiniera, and then mix it with lettuce, tomatoes and onions. There you go."

One thing everyone I talked to agreed on was that giardiniera is surging in popularity. The companies I talked to didn't have exact data on sales throughout the years but say the numbers have increased dramatically in the last decade.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it.

"In the past 10 years, it's gone from a really niche Chicago thing to a national one," says Jeff Johnson, who estimates that V. Formusa sells around a million pounds of giardiniera a year. "First we saw a growth in the southern Chicago area, and now we are really growing across the country."

Potbelly goes through hundreds of tons of giardiniera a year, estimates Lori Haughey, a vice president for the company (though, again, the chain refers to the condiment as hot peppers). "We sell (our hot peppers) by the 16-ounce jar, and by the tablespoon in sandwiches," says Haughey. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Potbelly is selling Zapp's hot pepper-flavored chips right now.

While Jim Graziano runs a much smaller operation, he says that in recent years, giardiniera sales have accounted for 80 percent of his out-of-town orders. He believes that when locals move away from the area, they are surprised that they can't easily find the condiment, so they get some delivered. These people, in turn, expose others to Chicago-style giardiniera.

"People in other cities go nuts for it, because they haven't had anything like it," he says.


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