Three Things Everyone Should Know About Giardiniera in Chicago

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Like many delicious foods in Chicago, giardiniera is a well-known mainstay of Italian cuisine. As is also the case with other foods in the city, giardiniera in Chicago is prepared differently than it is made in many other places around the world.

What Is Giardiniera?

Whether you enjoy it in Chicago or elsewhere, giardiniera is a relish that consists of pickled vegetables. Giardiniera in Chicago is easily identified by its heat factor. Although the final mixture may include any combination of pickled chilies, carrots, olives, or cauliflower, the final product must be spicy if you are going to serve it in Chicago. This preparation differs from its origin in Italy, where the traditional flavor was much milder.

Giardiniera Was a Way to Preserve Vegetables in the Winter

When the dish originated in Italy, it was originally simply a way to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables during the winter. When Italian immigrants made their way to Chicago in the 19th century, they brought the dish with them. The often brutal Chicago winters made for a perfect environment for giardiniera to flourish.

Ways Giardiniera Is Used in Chicago

In its native Italy, giardiniera is used typically as an appetizer or on the side, as a type of salad.

In Chicago, giardiniera is used as a topping or condiment. Sandwiches, eggs, pizza, hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches are common foods that people in Chicago top with giardiniera.

J.P Graziano is an Italian grocery store in Chicago and can be contacted at