Akron, and Northeast Ohio certainly has it's share of local food favorites, and former food editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, Jane Snow, has finally documented them in book form.
We don't do fancy, schmancy, stacked, tiny plated foodstuffs garnished with artsy squirts of sauces here; we like our food hearty, and for the most part, no nonsense.
How else can you explain Sauerkraut Balls being voted the city's official food in 1996? Jane provides a recipe for these deep fried ham and sauerkraut savories, often served with cocktail sauce, and found on most homestyle restaurant menus in town. (My mom makes an awesome sauerkraut ball - we usually had them for New Year's Eve, they were a way to get rid of the rest of that Christmas ham).
When we do seek higher end cuisine, Ken Stewart's Grille, is often the destination. The White French Salad Dressing is delicious, and Jane has managed to come up with a recipe that tastes pretty much like the restaurant's, using Hellman's Mayo and grated onion. Brilliant!
The Ginger Salad Dressing served in most Hibachi type joints also has been cloned. It looks similar to the one that used to be served in the old Pogo restaurant near Lakemore, after it morphed from a Swenson's type drive-in, to a seated joint in the '80s. (It's now a breakfast diner type place).
Non natives won't understand, but 'Barberton Chicken' holds it's own place in food history in Akron. Deep fried in lard, served with a heaping pile of slightly greasy, fresh cut fries, a vinegar based coleslaw, and 'Hot Rice' (or Hot Sauce), has contributed as much to the overhanging bellies and cholesterol counts of the population as anything. Having spent some time slinking through the chicken joint kitchens, Jane was able to provide a recipe for making the chicken, coleslaw, and the Hot Rice at home.
My childhood chicken haunt was Green Gables Restaurant on Massillon Road. You could order chicken or fish dinners for a dollar back when I was barely walking, and if you ordered for take-out you got an greasy soaked box that smelled like chicken heaven. Hot Rice - stewed tomatoes with rice, onion and a hot pepper, served in a small dish because it's kind of soupy, was one of my favorite sides. (I took hubby once when we were dating and I was feeling nostalgic, and he declared it 'greasy and disgusting'; what did he know, he was from Virginia?)
Dessert? Lou and Hy's Cheesecake, a dense New York style, has been long missed in this town since the deli shuttered. Now you can get your fix at home. Kefli, or Nut Horns, are also represented, another favorite that my mom does particularly well.
Ok, now I'm hungry and it's barely past breakfast. I am going to try out the interesting sounding Pickled Grapes recipe for a party I am catering on Saturday - red grapes with raspberry vinegar, red wine, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and fresh tarragon. Sounds interesting......