You might think that with all the mockery of St. Louis that goes on, we Gawker Media writers are being unfair to the city that is just so gosh-darn humble that it can't stop telling you how humble it is. You might think wrong.
What would you do if you wanted to create the perfect storm of mockability for the Gateway to the West? Would you use an online encyclopedia to craft a magical collection of paragraphs that lives up to every single stereotype the rest of America has about St. Louisans (that also, to the website's credit, contains disclaimers that the piece probably needs heavy editing for both neutrality and verification)?
Someone did. When my friends Rob (OregonBeast) and Casey (EverythingIsShiny) clued me in to the Wikipedia page for Saint Louis Cuisine (they spell it out longform, for some reason), I couldn't believe my eyes and none of us could stop laughing. Simply put, this is the most unintentionally hilarious Wikipedia entry I've ever seen. Don't take my word for it, though; join us as we mock the hell out of this thing, which is about as peak St. Louis as anything could possibly get.
Just remember, St. Louis: you brought this upon yourself — or at least whoever wrote that Wikipedia entry did.
St. Louis cuisine, the food culture of the St. Louis, Missouri area, has a rich history and broad range of influences. It consists most obviously of Italian, German, Irish, and French influences, but includes many essentially American contributions, and many contributions to food nationally, even globally. It has its own unique forms of pizza, barbecue, ravioli, pork, pastries, and more.
CA: Well, we're off to a rollicking start.
Rob: Yes, the rich history of St. Louis. St. Louis is called the "Gateway to the West," which means even 167 years ago, people who went there couldn't fucking wait to leave and die of dysentery.
CA: Don't forget foolhardy attempts to caulk the wagon!* I also love the "even globally," like the rest of the world takes its cues from St. Louis in anything other than humblebragging and virulent systemic police brutality.
St. Louis boasts what locals consider some of the best Italian food in the country, in a region known as The Hill. One food that originated there is toasted ravioli, which is a kind of ravioli coated in breading and toasted dry or fried, instead of being boiled or baked wet. Credit for its invention is generally given to a restaurant called Oldani's, which is now known as Mama Campisi's.
Casey: THE BEST ITALIAN FOOD IN THE COUNTRY! Forget Little Italy or the North End. St. Louis is where it's at!
Rob: What locals consider the best Italian food.
Casey: "We made Ravioli much more unhealthy."
CA: They honestly believe they're geniuses for accidentally dropping ravioli in a deep fryer. I'm not making that up, by the way; that's the official story!
Rob: How many fucking St. Louisans have ever actually left St. Louis?
St. Louis Pizza
Much is made of "New York style" and "Chicago style" pizza, and the rivalry between them. But an equally unique, and regionally popular, variation is St. Louis-style pizza. Among its unique traits:
- It is cut in squares, not wedges. This better supports the toppings, and is known as a "tavern cut."
- The crust is thin and crisp, almost like a cracker, made with no yeast, giving it greater strength.
- Greater crust strength is needed because the toppings are traditionally in much larger pieces, often sliced instead of diced.
- A unique cheese blend known as Provel cheese (composed of provolone, Swiss, and white cheddar) is used to allow the eater to bite cleanly through it.
- It is seasoned with more oregano and less basil than typical pizza sauce.
CA: True facts: 1) that first paragraph has way too many commas (and I love commas), and 2) in the Midwest, bullet points are how you show people you mean business. Careful, St. Louis; bullet points are wandering perilously close to showboating GLORY BOY territory.
Rob: This pizza is made with a giant cracker and processed cheese.
CA: "Squares support the toppings better. No, seriously, Jim-Earl came up with that once after his 10th drag of Wild Turkey, it's totally true!"
Rob: I remember the last time I subscribed to that theory. I was 20, in college, and totally thought serving things on top of a Triscuit would make me seem sophisticated and would make women totally want to sleep with me. There was a pizzeria I would go to in Southern Oregon that cut all its pizzas into squares to be different. My buddies literally chewed tobacco and spit it on the carpet, and nobody said a thing. That's your culinary equal, St. Louis.
Casey: Also "more oregano, less basil." So, "more of the irritatingly overpowering seasoning, less of the most delicious green food on the planet."
CA: I also love the "well gee-golly-whillikers, you're so busy talking about fancy places like New York and Chicago but don't forget about our down-home simple pizza in St. Louis!" I'd rather eat 20 lbs of that awful casserole Chicagoans call pizza than one fucking St. Louis crackergasm. New Haven-style is still better than all of them, by the way.
Casey: The whole reason I even found this absurd page is because I didn't know what St. Louis Pizza was, and Rob sent me a link to the Wikipedia page. The best thing to ever come out of St. Louis Pizza is how much fun it is to mock it.
Gooey Butter Cake
Allegedly originating with a botched cake recipe in the 1930s, gooey butter cake (or gooey butter cookies) is a favorite of the region.[who?] The cake is flat and dense, made with typical cake ingredients, but is much heavier and moist with butter or cream cheese, and dusted with powdered sugar, not iced. It is served as a snack rather than as a dessert, and for formal celebrations. Nationally, foodies became aware of this treat when Paula Deen "borrowed" the recipe, publishing it nationally under her own name.
CA: I love how every single St. Louis recipe is the end-result of someone fucking up a regular food. You're only allowed to innovate in St. Louis if you do it unintentionally. Also, what the fuck were they trying for, anyway? "I'mma cook me a cake with butter instead a' cake mix, Lurleen, it's gon' be great!"
Rob: Anybody whose ancestors made their way to St. Louis and they still live there is the result of a fuck-up. As in 'Fuck, I tried to get us to Kansas City, but something went horribly wrong" and they had to stay and their descendants were so beat down by life they never tried to leave. St. Louis is where the antebellum South went so it could marry its sister.
Casey: I'm loving the Paula Deen shade here, too.
CA: That's some A+ Midwestern passive-aggression game. "THAT BITCH STOLE OUR BUTTER TOPPED WITH BUTTER AND BAKED IN BUTTER IDEA, WHO THE FUCK DOES SHE THINK SHE IS?"
Rob: How desperate do you have to be to say Paula "DAMN Y'ALL INSTITUTIONAL RACISM IS AMAZING" Deen ripped YOU off for a ripped-off pound cake recipe?
St. Louis BBQ
Listed by Kingsford as one of the top ten barbecue cities, St. Louis–style barbecue involves direct grilling rather than indirect heat and smoking, and a larger volume of the style's sweet, sticky, acidic tomato-based sauce. It is used with two local meat cuts:
St. Louis–style ribs
St. Louis–style ribs are spare ribs with the sternum, cartilage and rib tips removed to create a rectangular-shaped rack. This cut of ribs, formally recognized by the USDA as "Pork Ribs, St. Louis Style," allegedly originated with numerous meat-packing plants located in the region in the mid-20th century.
Casey: "St. Louis BBQ: We took Kansas City BBQ and made it lazier." Also, guys! The USDA recognizes "St. Louis style ribs!" THEY'RE FAMOUS!
Rob: St. Louis BBQ: We boil our sauce and destroy our meat in it, GO CARDS.
CA: I'm laughing really hard at Wikipedia's "weasel words" citation note. Like they have any other type of words in St. Louis?
The Gerber Sandwich
The Gerber sandwich originated at the locally famous Ruma's Deli. It is an open-faced sandwich, with Italian or French bread, garlic butter, ham, and provel cheese. It is sprinkled with paprika and toasted.
Casey: What is with this provel bullshit? "We added some shitty cheese to some decent cheese, processed the hell out of it, and here you go!"
Rob: Yes, let's talk about provel. It's the quintessential St. Louis cheese, and they have to have it made in WISCONSIN.
CA: This sounds terrible, but I'd definitely eat it.
Rob: Likely because ham is the one pork product St. Louis hasn't found a way to ruin yet.
CA: Give them time.
St. Paul Sandwich
The St. Paul sandwich originated in St. Louis in the 1940s. It is made with white bread with an egg foo young patty inside, served with dill pickle, white onion, mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato. Its inventor, Steven Yuen at Park Chop Suey in Lafayette Square St. Louis, named the sandwich after his hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota.
CA: The quintessential St. Louis sandwich: named after a city in Minnesota. They should make that the city motto: "St. Louis: Even the food wishes it were somewhere else!"
Rob: The crux of St. Louis cuisine seems to be "take someone else's food, change one ingredient, and claim it as something unique." Oh, Nashville serves hot fish sandwiches on white bread? We'll swap out fish with a fucking egg foo young patty and call it our own! New York likes thin crust pizza? We'll ditch the yeast, swap out real cheese for a processed reject that even fucking Wisconsin won't eat and call it a unique style!" Honestly, I'm surprised that with the box office sales of 50 Shades of Grey, St. Louis hasn't swapped out leather bondage straps with ones made of barbecue-sauced pork skins and called it St. Louis-style BDSM.
Casey: I'm sorry, I was too busy vomiting to come up with anything to say about this. EVEN THE ONION HAS TO BE WHITE!
CA: Red onions aren't
bland humble enough.
[The next part all comes from the section about foods supposedly introduced to the world at the 1904 World's Fair. It's worth noting that the 1904 World's Fair WAS supposed to launch St. Louis into the conversation for Greatest American Cities, and probably would have if everyone hadn't suddenly remembered that it was St. Louis.]
The Waffle Cone
The ice cream cone, especially the waffle cone. George Bang, owner of the Bannery Creamery allegedly ran out of bowls for his ice cream at the fair, and started using rolled up waffle shaped Italian cookies called pizzelles.
CA: My favorite part of this is that it shamelessly credits St. Louis for the invention of the waffle cone in 1904 while linking to another Wikipedia page that specifically states waffle cones existed as far back as 1825 in France and were most likely being used in New York since 1896, all while not once even mentioning the 1904 World's Fair. There is literally nothing St. Louisans won't take credit for (and we're not even done with them taking credit for things, there are two more coming!).
Rob: And in St. Louis, those waffle cones only come with vanilla sprinkles.
Casey: St. Louis, just because you use the word "allegedly" doesn't mean you can say whatever you want with no repercussions. A lie is still a lie.
Hot dogs (frankfurters in buns): Anton Ludwig Feuchtwanger, a Bavarian sausage seller, is said to have served sausages in rolls at the World's Fair–either the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago or the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis–allegedly because the white gloves provided to protect the customers' hands were being kept as souvenirs.
Rob: If all this stuff originated in St. Louis, maybe the Gateway Arch is really a Stargate. Ra brought the knowledge of ice cream cones, hot dogs and the Cardinal Way.
CA: Also bullshit, by the way. There are a ton of legends about the creation of the hot dog, but it seems pretty certain a guy was selling sausages in rolls in 1870 on Coney Island.
Casey: I'm a fan of the idea that they had to explain that hot dogs are "frankfurters in buns." Thank you, I had no fucking clue what a hot dog was.
CA: Also, they were giving customers gloves and then just handing them tubes of meat? That's pretty apex St. Louis right there. I like that even if this is true, people were keeping their soggy meat gloves rather than giving them back. They may have been coated in meat squeezings, but hey, free gloves!
The local ice cream shop, Ted Drewes, originated "Concrete", frozen custard mixed into a milkshake so thick that you could hang a spoon in it upside-down. This was imitated, years later, by Dairy Queen as the Blizzard.
CA: At this point, what wasn't originally stolen from St. Louis? Were they the first city to discover the secret of fire and that lying attention whore Prometheus stole their thunder?
Rob: Fun fact: Jesus actually came to St. Louis first. Both mainstream Christians and Mormons got it wrong. I mean, why else would the second-highest position in the Catholic church be called Cardinals?
Casey: What is even the point of claiming this was stolen from you? I'm going to start a page like this for Boston: BOSTON, WHERE WE HAD THE FRAPPUCCINO FIRST BEFORE STARBUCKS STOLE IT. OR BOUGHT THE COPYRIGHT FROM A LOCAL COFFEE CHAIN. WHATEVER.
CA: DC: "We totally invented crippling traffic jams and being irrationally terrified of inclement weather, the rest of you stole it from us."
Rob: Portland: "We didn't invent anything, but we made it extra organic and pretentious as hell."
The hamburger (a cooked ground meat patty served on a bun) gained national recognition at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair when the New York Tribune described the hamburger as "the innovation of a food vendor on the pike."
Rob: Oh for fuck's sake.
CA: I'm sure no one thought of a slab of meat on a bun before St. Louis. Wait, are we positive this wasn't an accident? Like someone dropped a wad of meat they were about to just eat whole onto the bread they were about to use to make a butter sandwich, and went "EUREKA!" Well, not "eureka" because that's one o' them fancy furren' words, but the St. Louis equivalent.
Rob: I believe it would be "WOOOOOO DOGGGGIES!" and then St. Louis would try to claim Jed Clampett stole it from them 40 years after the fact.
Casey: Everything that happened in St. Louis was invented there. EVERYTHING EVER.
I eagerly await the enraged yet smugly superior comments which will no doubt point out that St. Louis is gosh-darned awesome and doesn't need anyone else's validation while simultaneously telling me off for being so mean. St. Louis: the only city in America with both a superiority and an inferiority complex.
* Rob: Oregon Trail was a game you were supposed to lose. It's the Kobayashi Maru for second graders.