Thanks to my friend, Jan, over at Jan’s Sushi Bar, I’ve decided to give this here posting every day thing a try, y’all.
It’s called NaBloPoMo,and I can’t believe how long it just took me to write that. Stands for “National Blog Posting Month”. You post something every day for a month.
Today I want to introduce you to one of my favorite foods, the Spiedie.
For Day 3 of our Staycation, we had a family dinner. Now this was not just an ordinary family dinner, y’all. This was our annual cooking of the chicken spiedies (sounds like speedie)! Every August, when Dani is here, we cook the spiedies and the whole family gathers at our house to devour them.
If you are unfamiliar with Spiedies (and everyone outside of Binghamton New York is!) then let me introduce you to them. Spiedies are bite sized pieces of meat, marinated in a special sauce for several days (the longer the better!) and cooked on skewers on a grill. They can be made out of any kind of meat, pork, beef, lamb or chicken. We like chicken.
Spiedies are traditionally served on a skewer with a piece of plain Italian bread to soak up the juice. You grasp the skewer with the bread in your hand, using it as an oven mitt and pull the spiedies onto the bread. Then eat it immediately – they are best when they are hot off the grill.
Homemade sauce is the best, of course, but if you are in the middle of entertaining two teenage girls, keeping up with their unnecessary, only worn for a few hours, mountains of clothes lovingly washing their cute little outfits, and trying to clean your house good enough to keep your mother from making snarky comments about dust freshen things up a bit for company, you might want to take the easy way out buy the convenient bottled sauce at Harris Teeter.
The history of the spiedie is an interesting story. Brought to the Upstate new York area by Italian immigrants in the 1920’s, the word “spiedie” comes form the Italian word, spiedo, meaning “kitchen cooking spit.” Augustine Icacovelli from Endicott, New York is believed to have first introduced them in his restaurant, “Augies”, in 1939. He called his original sauce “zuzu” and it was made from wine vinegar, water, lemon juice, garlic and mint. They were so popular among the local workers of the time that for years every local grocery store in the area had a spiedie stand on the street in front of it.
Today just about the only place you can still get an authentic spiedie is in Binghamton, NY. Our favorite restaurant is called “Sharkey’s.” Located in a working class area of small houses and shops, the restaurant is a wonderful example of Binghamton history. Sharkey’s has been run by the same family for more than 50 years.
Over the wooden bar are the iconic Shultz and Dooley talking Utica Club Beer mugs now silently looking at the dance floor and ancient bowling game that have done service for decades. The “dining room” has utilitarian wooden tables and booths. The walls are an unrecognizable color of green, the napkins and plates are paper, but the no nonsense ambience is rather charming. You can order clams, pizza, cabbage rolls, pierogis, and cheese fries……..but trust me, get the spiedies and a pitcher of beer.
After you have devoured the spiedies, sit back, swill your beer and think of the generations of workers, students, and families who have come here to eat the famous spiedie.