What the Fritz?
Anyway, I just never was quite adventurous enough to walk into Fritz’s and order up a plate of chili because, for one, I didn’t understand why the chili didn’t come in a traditional bowl and I wasn’t going to mess with tradition. Last night, though, my friends and I attempted to start a tradition we’ve been talking about for a year or so. It sounded great in theory. During a snow storm, we would all bundle up, trudge through our driveways to our cars and then drive the mile or so to Fritz’s where we would all sit at one big table with huge plates of steaming, yummy, soupy, stick-to-your-ribs chili.
The first part of the tradition went off without a hitch. There was already five inches of snow on the ground, and there was no sign of it letting up, so we all bundled up, trudged to our cars, drove to Fritz’s and went inside. We were thrilled to meet Fritz and to be there and the excitement kept mounting until we read the menu. “I don’t get it,” Lindsay said. “What is all meat chili, why is it served on a plate, why would someone just want beans,” I questioned. And then there was the matter of the price — $6.50 for a medium plate of meat and beans and an additional 60 cents for a catsup cup filled with hard, oily cheese? Fritz’s also does not carry butter, which is my favorite condiment for saltine crackers.
After the additional realization that Fritz’s only accepts cash, the men trudged to Osco to make random purchases like gum and deodorant in order to get cash back. Finally, after the rest of us nearly made a meal out of crackers with hot chili vinegar on them, our chili was set before us. It was a disappointing climax to our chili-going adventure. Questions whispered around the table included but weren’t limited to: “Is this chili?” “Does this look right to you?” “If I add lots of this chili vinegar and salt and chili powder, do you think it will taste right?”
We were all hungry, so we ate, although we questioned the entire time what it was exactly that we were eating, how Fritz’s is still a popular spot and why people who have eaten there before ever go back. The cherry pie was about the only redeeming quality of the long-standing, 75th Street and Metcalf “chili” joint.