Thursday, October 16, 2008

13 Things about St. Louis

After our recent Staycation , I have been filled with renewed appreciation for my hometown. In appreciation, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite things about St. Louis including some of the quirks of the people who live here (those quirks are some of my favorite things too.)


1. Toasted Ravioli – You take ravioli, roll it in bread crumbs and deep fry it. Dip it in Marinara sauce, yum what’s not to like. Some restaurants get fancy and also serve toasted Cannelloni, it’s all good.

2. Gooey Better Cake – Think of a cross between the best yellow cake you have ever had and cheesecake combined with sticks of butter and wait I need a minute. At one of the Littlest Geek’s Triathlons, there was a bakery with gooey butter cake samples. I literally stopped in my tracks. I don’t like to chow down on Gluten filled goodies in front on the boys, BUT, I quick looked at LG with his back to me, and snarfed up two pieces. I hope you don’t think less of me.

3. St. Louis Style Pizza – People love it or hate it but you won’t mistake it for anything else. First the crust must be very thin. (Not too thin and crumbly like some restaurants). The cheese must be Provel. Provel cheese itself is traditionally from St. Louis and is a mixture of several cheeses including Provolone. St. Louisians refer to this cheese as “the gooey cheese” as opposed to mozzarella which is called “the stringy cheese”. (They are simple that way.) St. Louis Style Pizza must also be cut into squares, not wedges. It just does, do not argue with us.

Roads that do not exist on any street sign or map

4. Wharf Street – This is the street between the Arch and the river. It has some long official name, but you will never hear a local call it anything but Wharf Street.

5. The Interbelt – Officially known as Highway I-170. Not to be confused with Highway I-70. St. Louisians get I and 1 confused a lot, and just so you know, in St. Louisian time, the Interbelt is a new highway (built in the 80’s).

6. The Page Extension – Official name: I-364. This highway and bridge over the Missouri River is so new that I am sure it will never be called anything but the Page Extension within my lifetime. Luckily for visitors to the area it does indeed connect with Page Avenue on one end, which should help them find it on a map.

And soon to join this category

7. Highway 40 – A major renovation within the St. Louis area (hint: if you visit stay far away from this construction.) As the highway is brought up to interstate standards , MoDOT is optimistically renaming it I-64. Yeah right, it will never be anything other than Highway 40 here. And by the way the pronunciation in Highway Farrrty, very heavy on the R sound.

Which leads me to:

Letters that are pronounced in words but don’t exist in the spelling

8. The letter R – St. Louisians love the letter R. They love it so much that there is always a big emphasis on it when it exists in a words, such ar Farrty, sharrts (shorts) and Quarrrter. In fact they love it so much they include it into words where it was not originally, the favorite being warsh (wash), everyone knows that if you take the R out of Wash things will not get clean. (You can quote me, I know these things.)

9. The letter D – This is more confusing because most St. Louisians don’t even know that they do this. I discovered it when a poor lost traveler asked me for help. He had a St. Louis map and directions from a local. “Help me,” he begged, “I can’t find Baldwin, and it is supposed to be right here on the map.” “Oh,” I said easily, “it’s right there.” And I pointed to Ballwin. “There’s no D in it,” He cried (really almost cried, he had been staring at the map for a really long time.) So here is my public service message: There is no D in Ballwin. Now is I could just convince Mr. Geek that there is no D in Winfield. (Unless you are using the word in conversation, in which you must add the D, I hope this is clear.)

Other Pronunciations that just do not make sense.
To understand some of this you have to look to the history of St. Louis. There is a strong French influence in St. Louis’s history most obviously starting with the name St. Louis named after King Louis IX of France. However there is a very strong German influence. If you study the two languages at all, you will find that there is little in common with the way letters and words are pronounced.

10. Sometimes St. Louisians just pronounce the word as if it was English.

Bellefountaine is pronounced Bell-fountain.
St Francoisis pronounce St. Francis
Creve Coeur is pronounced Creeve Core.

11. Pronunciations no one understands Sometimes it appears that there has been an attempt to change the pronunciation, an attempt that has gone horribly wrong, and at this point the spelling and the pronunciation don’t have anything in common and you end up with

Courtois River pronounced at Court-a-Way River
Castlio School is pronounced Causely School.

Other St. Louis Quirks
12. How do you pronounce Missouri? You would think that at least the people that live in a state would agree on how to pronounce said state. Wouldn't you? Of course not. In St. Louis, the pronunciation is Mizzoureee with an i like spaghetti. This is actually the only correct pronunciation and I personally will fight this til my death.

13. The Question: Everyone who lives or visits St. Louis knows the question. “Where did you go to high school?” Yes we ask everyone we meet this, we just do, accept it and get over it.
I will try to explain our fascination with this question for those of you who visit or moved to St. Louis after high school and feel left out during this part of the conversation. 1. It is not a moment of snobbery. (Some people of course can use it as such, but that is not its intent.) 2. It is a efficient way to ask lots of questions in one compact questions. (St. Louisians are very thrifty and efficient, that is why they produce such awesome engineers.) Most St. Louisians live here our whole life, I myself am the fourth generation of St. Louisians (Laugh about me if you want, real St. Louisians know that you are laughing and still don’t care.) By asking this one simple, non offensive question, I can find out the following:

How old you are. (Many high schools go in and out of existence)
What your religion is (or a close guess).
How much money your parents made.
I can narrow down, the probability if you went to college and maybe even guess which college.
But most importantly I can find out:
Do we know any of the same people. (Because St. Louis is really just one big small town.)

So there is some important information on my hometown. I hope this is helpful for you if you ever get to the middle of the United States. When you get here, give me a holler!


Sandier Pastures said...

In Dubai, people call the streets not with their street name too but with distinct landmarks that are located in them. Like NMC Hospital road, big mosque road, etc.

happy TT!

Meju said...

Love your made me laugh and drool! Happy TT.

~Just Me~ said...

Thats a great list! Happy TT!

Tanya said...

Don't forget about roads. There is Jungerman and Jungs Station. Both start with a J and perhaps should be said with that J sound. Yet, I hear people say it with a Y sound.

marina said...

cool post, i have one about costa rica.

Jenn said...

Love your list. Made me hungry. I love #1 .

Nicholas said...

What a perfectly fascinating TT. Thank you.

Elizabeth said...

Being a Southern transplant, I think y'all weirdos up here are just that: weird.

One of the food items you forgot on the list is pork steaks. And also y'all like to put BBQ sauce on EVERYTHING. Yuck.

The Page Extension thing made me laugh. I have already started calling it the P.E. and people look at me funny. I have to remember to call it 364.

Another letter that is pronounced but doesn't exist in the spelling is the letter "t" in the word across. So many of y'all weirdos say "acrosst", like when saying on a crossword puzzle, it's #27 acrosst. Funny thing: kids on my street have now started calling Christopher "Christ." Not as in J.C. with the long I, but just like Chris with a "t" on the end.

Another French word pronounced English here in Missouri is "Versailles." Y'all say "ver-sales." Funny.

I enjoyed reading your TT. There are so many other quirky St. Louis things that I think you could write at least 13 more!

Robin said...

Tanya - The Jungermann famiily that the road was named for pronouncede their name with the German J sound --Youngerman. I tried using that pronouciation and finally gave up- no one knew where I was talking about.

Elizabeh - I forget that not everyone uses BBQ sauce like we do. I remember the look on Mr. Geek's face the first time he saw BBQ sauce on hamburgers.

The best use of the letter T is in asked as in -- I askted (two syllables) him if he had warshed out the kitchen zink (sink).

I think I might be able to come up with another thirteen also. lol

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your list! My husband and I were just discussing how to pronounce 'Castilo'. He told me the correct pronunciation was 'Causely' but I thought it should be 'kah-STEE-yoe'. I lose on this one. My husband thanks you.