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CNN Thinks Chicago Is Gluttonous

By Anthony Todd in Food on Feb 22, 2012 6:20PM

Image Credit: Edwin Araos

CNNgo, the travel section of CNN, posted an article last week covering "America's most sinful cities." Kind of a creative idea, and the results were sometimes predictable (Las Vegas = Greed) and sometimes baffling (Indianapolis = Sloth). Chicago was the first city on the list, giving us some of that national attention we crave so badly. What sin does Chicago commit? Gluttony.

Okay, wait, we're still excited—Chicago has great restaurants, stellar farmers markets and a wonderful food culture. CNN has finally noticed us, right? Nope. The picture accompanying the article is of a McDonald's window. The statistics they cite include our 3,500 fast food joints, 4,000 restaurants and 25 percent obesity ranking. On the other hand, these numbers only make us the eighth-most gluttonous city in America.

What puts us over the edge? Taste of Chicago and Baconfest. What now?

Having the largest food festival in the world (that is downsizing), plus a festival devoted to bacon that sold out fast, was enough to vault us from eighth to first. It's not important that we have the best restaurant in America (Alinea) and the hottest new restaurant in the country (Next). Nor that our dining scene is more affordable than New York or San Francisco.

Combined with the New York Times' boneheaded remark in January about how Charlie Trotter refined Chicago's "Stockyard Palate," this article makes it clear that the city of Chicago needs better food PR. We seem to have a long way to go before the rest of America loves Chicago's food as much as we do. We may be gluttons, but we're better gluttons than that.