In Chicago, we take our condiments pretty seriously. Don’t ever give us ketchup on our hot dogs - it’s mustard or bust on top of our encased meats. On Italian beef, it’s gotta be giardiniera - a mild or spicy mix of pickled peppers, cauliflower, carrots and chiles doused in olive oil.
Giardiniera has its roots in Italy - the word means “female farmer” in Italian and the pickling process helped to preserve vegetables through the winter. Often used as an antipasti or appetizer, the garnish first made its way to Chicago in the late 19th century in the suitcases and hearts of Italian immigrants. It was popularized by the Chicago food production company, Marconi. Decades later, many companies and local celebrities, including Vienna Beef and Mike Ditka, have created their own versions.
The coolest thing about giardiniera is that it is uniquely Chicago. Head even a short distance out of town and they’ve never heard of it, while here in the city and suburbs, we toss it on subs, pasta, pizza, you name it.
Our new shirt celebrates the combination of heat, salt and crunch you get when you bite into this delicious condiment. So forget kale…eat more giardiniera.