And today’s 175 Days to Love Chicago celebrates one of my favorite institutions — Taste of Chicago! I love it for being one of the things we attended the summer of 1997 when my BFF was working in the suburbs and living in Buffalo Grove. It marked my first trip into the city via Metra, which I use nearly daily now, and amazed me that there are people who would have to take a train that long every day into work. (Give me a break — I’m a kid from Eastern Nebraska, where commuting 45 minutes from Lincoln to Omaha or vice versa seems strange. That said, commuting 90 minutes from a small town in the country makes so much more sense. Only because I had more experience with that back then.) That year, I fell in love with corndogs again, eating my first vegetarian version with a delicious honey mustard (and thus began a new love of mustard explorations as well). To me, Taste of Chicago is iconic Chicago for lots of reasons. First, outdoors in the summer. Isn’t that why we all live here through those horrible winter months when we go into and leave work in the dark? Second, we think we’re foodies but still love to argue about the best hot dogs. And Taste has some restaurants that have been coming for years, with usually at least one new one (this year’s solo new entry is Pazzo’s, which has a location in the building where I work — I highly recommend, especially if you’re looking for lighter fare). It also seems so Chicago in the swath of diversity in the people. The people like me who work downtown, and will only head over during the lunch hour. The people that come in from the suburbs every single summer for this event, cursing as they pay for parking. Or my personal favorites — the suburban moms with the Mini Cooper sized strollers that expect everyone to just get out of their way like they are parting the Red Sea or something. So I will not be making it to Taste this year, but I will think of it fondly!