I forgot to mention this article in today's Tribune:
Short of ripping raw flesh from a freshly killed beast in the wild, meat eating doesn't get much more primal than ribs. Sure, chicken wings also have bones, but they are miniature little things one can pick up with two fingers. You can find them on the appetizer section of the menu. A full slab of ribs lands on the table with a thud, like a declaration of true gluttony. They also function as a fair warning to nearby persons to avoid eye contact as things are about to get messy.
Mention ribs, and most people know exactly what you're talking about: a wide hunk of pork interspersed with long bones. Even without considering how they are cooked (smoked, baked or boiled), you know what they look like. But just as there are different cuts of steak, there are numerous kinds of ribs. Four show up the most in Chicago — baby back ribs, spareribs, St. Louis ribs and rib tips. Baby back ribs come from high on the pig's rib cage near the loin, resulting in lean and tender meat. Spareribs are cut from lower down the rib and are meatier and fattier, with one side featuring a host of bones and cartilage. Trim away that gnarly side from the spare rib, and you have St. Louis ribs. The piece you trimmed away is called the rib tip.
One rule of thumb for Chicago ribs? The more comfortable you are, the less likely it is that you're eating real barbecue.
I now have a new list of places to try this summer. Yum.