I have officially been living in St. Louis for two months as of last Sunday. While I have much left to learn about this city and its unique culture, I am not going to let a lack of information, experience, and time prevent me from making some snap judgments about my new home town. After all, if making brash, uninformed generalizations and providing personal opinions as if they are scientific fact are good enough for our national politicians, then they are good enough for me.
1) Provel Cheese
First, I have to tell you about Provel. Prov-what? you say. Provel. It is this processed cheese substance made from cheddar, swiss, and provolone that is all the rage in St. Louis, but nowhere else. Why hasn’t this trend caught on in other regions? Why hasn’t it spread throughout the country? Because, it is awful. It is one of those terrible culinary idiosyncrasies that you can only love because you grew up with it.
2) Help Yourself Shrimp Bar
The grocery store downtown on my block has an island, similar to the common salad bar, with only shrimp. Granted, the variety of ways to prepare shrimp is impressive, but doesn’t one have to be at least a little weary of shrimp that sits out all day in a high traffic grocery store. With the popularity of shrimp here, one might forget that we are nowhere near the ocean. Hmm…could these be fresh from the Mississippi River?
I am a huge football fan and I came prepared to adopt and cheer for my new team (unless they are against the Steelers, of course). I was shocked when people would tell me what a great sports town this was…”We have the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Blues.” No mention of the Rams. So I asked the first guy I met wearing a Rams hat what was with the sports fans ignoring the Rams. It turns out this guy is the equipment manager for the Rams and he said that they have never fully recovered from losing the Cardinals to Arizona and cannot bring themselves to trust the Rams. You might assume, like me, that a town that does not care about football must be totally unredeemable. But it is not all gloom and doom.
1) Free Zoo
So many of the activities in the city are cheap or even free. The St. Louis Zoo is fantastic . . . and free. I honestly felt like a security guard was going to rush me after I walked in. It just did not feel natural. Parking is incredibly cheap (compared to NYC anyway). Forrest Park, which claims to be bigger than Central Park, is beautiful. One day we drove into a park outside the city that we happened upon and found ourselves surrounded by Elk and Bison. It was a drive through Midwest safari . . . and, you guessed it, it was free.
Yeah yeah, so I complained about football above, but come on, this is a great sports town. On my birthday in July, Melissa and Jakobi took me to a Cardinals game. When the players were struggling, the crowd was patient until the seventh inning and then a small rumble spread through the crowd as they began to muster support for the struggling players. The rumble grew into a roar and the stadium was electric. I did not hear a single obscenity thrown at the home team. Now if you are from the Midwest you might not understand the significance of this, but New Yorkers know what I mean. I remember taking Jakobi when he was only four to a Yankees game and hearing the home town crowd jeer, curse, and verbally brutalize the Yankee players for the smallest reasons. And that leads me to my last point . . .
3) People Are Nice
People are kind here. They work hard, are earnest, and there is very little B.S. For instance, they would probably never create a list of overly generalized, uninformed assumptions about a place they just moved to . . . this seems like a good place to end.