ST. LOUIS, Mo. — A Boston food writer Devra First wrote a letter to St. Louis as both town’s hockey teams battle for the Stanley Cup. The title of the note appearing in the Boston Globe is, “Hey, St. Louis, it’s not just our hockey team that’s better. It’s our food, too.”
This tame paragraph sets the tone for the open letter, “We beat you in football. We beat you in baseball. I don’t know if we’ll beat you in hockey; it’s been 49 long years since the Bruins and the Blues last faced off for the Stanley Cup. But there is one thing I am sure of this 2019 season: We definitely beat you in food.”
First takes St. Louis to task over iconic local dishes like pizza, toasted ravioli, gooey butter cake, pork steaks, and the bread sliced bagels. The only praise the Gateway to the West gets in the culinary arts is for barbecue.
“If we’ve got the advantage on seafood, you dominate when it comes to barbecue. St. Louis’s scene has flourished over the last decade, with places like Pappy’s Smokehouse, Sugarfire, and Salt + Smoke (burnt end T-ravs!) leading the way. Before that, St. Louis barbecue mostly referred to grilled meat slathered in sauce. And that meat was often pork steak, sliced from the shoulder — a.k.a. Boston butt. Does that count for something?”
The comments on their Facebook post are entertaining:
Casey J. Morris writes, “You know, I like living in this area a lot. But if I were trying to brag about how great it was I would definitely not start with the Italian food.”
Jamie Barth comments, “Terrific! Having lived both places, I get it. Toasted ravioli befuddled me at first, but it’s good, esp with sauce (gravy?).”
Garrett Kern notes: “I’m a Chicagoan (read: hates St. Louis) and lived in Boston for a year. It’s not even close, Boston food is mediocre at best. The existence of Pappy’s Smokehouse obliterates any good offerings Boston has.”
“As someone who grew up in NYC and spent a few years in Boston, i find Boston talking smack about Bagels, pizza and ravioli to be just adorable. And St Louis? Stop it now,” comments Gary Johnston.
So, what about those T-ravs?
“St. Louis, I’d hate to see what you’d do to other Italian specialties, like ravioli.
Oh, dear God, you deep-fry them. The legend is that, decades ago, a cook at a local restaurant accidentally dropped some ravioli in the fryer. Like any good cook would, he served them anyway. The so-called toasted ravioli — affectionately known as T-ravs — were a hit.
Please come visit for some of our famous toasted clams. At North Shore spots like the Clam Box in Ipswich and J.T. Farnham’s in Essex, the juicy, battered whole-bellies will make you forget your glorified bar snack. One crunch releases the kiss of the sea. Just remember: Our accents are wicked crazy, and we pronounce “toasted” as “fried.” Bahstonians! If it’s ravioli you want, we boil them — and sometimes they’re even filled with lobster. Score!”