Detroit Eats Analogy

A reader writes:

If one was going to cook Detroit’s favorite dish, what would it be? Here,
SAT style: Barbecue is to Kansas City as _____ is to Detroit.

Good question. I’m overjoyed that the Superbowl is hosted in Detroit
this year. Way I see it, an NFC team has a shot at winning a game played
in the Motor City during the playoffs. That hasn’t happened
in a
(plus, the games against Dallas and Green Bay in ’91 and ’93
were in Pontiac, anyway). So, as we approach the Detroit Superbowl, I need your
What’s more fearsome than a Seahawk? What’s Detroit’s
marquee food?

My first (bad)
guesses revert to up-state gourmet such as venison stew and Mackinaw Island
fudge. Or nuts-n-bolts, middle-Michigan (elsewhere?) parlance for Chex
mix. For our Super get-together, I’m thinking about trying (from memory) a
variant of Tirechange Chili (some call it hunter’s stew). Ideally, I’d
sugar up on paczkis afterward, if only I knew how to make them.

The ultimate Detroit food, however, is the
coney dog.
Coneys and chili cheese fries (using
Koegel Franks?). Of
course, you could mod out the dogs with any mix of Soul food (collard-topped
coneys), Meditteranean (couscous-topped coneys) and Italian (deep dish coneys)
influences. That’s probably the best I can come up with. Anyone else
with a suggestion? What food makes Detroit proud and is suited to
cooking for a Superbowl party?


  1. I would say coney dog as well. Other notables:
    1. Shrimp. Lots of shrimp places in the city. Yet, no shrimping near by. Hmmmm.
    2. Bad pizza
    3. Mexican! Real Mexican too, not just tacos and quesadillas. But only in SW D.
    4. Fast food.
    5. More fast food.
    6. Tim Horton’s. Fast food that is Canadian!

  2. I love a city that loves its chili dogs. Sounds good right now. I’ll take chili and cheese over Chicago’s sport peppers, lettuce and celery salt any day. Salad vs. Chili? No contest.

    So, are we talking Midwest chili, Cincinnati chili or Texas chili? Natural casing on the weiner? Or does any of it matter?

  3. Never saw a shrimp boat on Lake St. Claire, but toxicity warnings got regular play in the warm months. Come to think of it, I’ve never had Detroit shrimp. Mexican either. But fast food…yep. Plenty of that.

    P., I didn’t know Cincinnati had chili or a chili-type unto itself. What is it, like a cream of chili with chicken? I think Koegels are franks with natural casings, but I can’t remember. Did you ever have any of the pickled bologna from Koegel’s? Now there’s a treat.

  4. RE: Cinci. chili…yes indeed, Cinci’s got its own unique chili all unto itself. Made famous by Skyline (there’s a skyline chili on every damn block), and to a lesser extent Gold Star. It’s a rather horrid concoction–lacking the requisite garlic, cumin, and heat–with lots of cinammon and sugar. Way to sweet, imho.

    Alright, the matter at hand. Yeah, coneys are uniquitous and certainly make the most sense for Super Bowl fare. But, arguably, the shawerma sandwich has become *the* Detroit food (admitted bias: I work in Dearborn, so I’m skewed–scured?–toward the amazing and abundant arabic-culinary offerings of the D. And, if you’ve got yourself a rotisserie, access to good pita and those pickled turnips, and know how to make that garlic sauce that has you gulping water for the next two days, you could put out quite the spread for your guests.

  5. Almost forgot about the soul food. During undergrad years, there was a place on Livernois, a couple blocks from U of D, called ‘Dot and Etta’s Shrimp Hut.’ A weird, tasty, and fattening mixture of soul food, creole, and fast food. Iced tea and lemonnade that had enough sugar to send you into a diabetic coma. I think they’ve since shut their doors. But there’s a soul food place on 8-Mile that I pass every morning and have been meaning to stop called ‘Back in the Day Soul Food.’ No idea if it’s good, but the name alone makes it worth a try, no?

  6. “But there’s a soul food place on 8-Mile that I pass every morning and have been meaning to stop called ‘Back in the Day Soul Food.’ ”

    Dang, Bill. You’re in my hood. Stop on by!

  7. A coney dog from any of the hundreds of joints in Detroit. Then all you need is 40 ounce of Magnum a couple hits from the crackpipe. Detroit what a great city!!!!!!

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