Saturday, September 1, 2007

Chicago Ethnic Grocery Tours Part II

The next place was La Unica that has food for all types of Latin cuisine. Some of the unique items I saw were the quince and mango jellies that were sliced and place on crackers with cheese to provide a sweet contrast. Block and cone sugar and chocolate was interesting to see as well as purple corn. People of the Andes make a refreshing drink from purple corn called "chicha morada" which is now recognized as a nutritive powerhouse due to its phenolic content.

The interesting thing was the eating area to the side. Walking past the store front, one would never know that it has a restaurant in the back. We took a little break and tried a few foods; yucca (pan fried?) with some picked onions and two types of plantains. The yucca was very starchy and dense. It tasted like a potato, but was a little grainier. I could see how the yucca could make food go a long way because it was filling. We also had a fried sweet yellow plantain that was tender almost creamy. The green plantain was lightly fried and then pounded flat and fried again. It was like a very dense potato chip with just a light hint of sweetness. The sweet lemon and a sour orange we bought from the Rogers Park Fruit Market added a nice amount of acidity to the plantains and cut some of fat. The rest of the menu was pretty varied including Cuban sandwiches and some Peruvian dishes.