Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Spiedies of Binghamton in New York, USA

Legend has it that while at Balliol College, Oxford, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey were so dazzled by the French Revolution they planned to create a utopian community to implement its ideals. They chose a site in the "New World" by scrutinizing a map of New York state and liking the name of the Susquehanna River. However, the next year Coleridge married and the plans for this "pantisocracy" were abandoned.

In the New World, however, a not so ideal manufacturing community developed at the junction of the Susquehanna and Chenango rivers. Instead of lyric poets, immigrants from Italy and Poland settled in the Triple Cities of Binghamton, Endicott, and Johnson City to work in the factories making shoes, airplanes, cameras and business machines.

If you find yourself in upstate New York, drive south from the charming towns and wineries of the Finger Lakes District and see where Utopia might have been. In keeping with our mandate of eating history, take a bite of Binghamton's immigrant history. Eat the mysterious spiedie!

Italian immigrants created a recipe for marinated lamb cooked on a skewer and served with a chunk of warm crusty bread. The spiedie is found only in the Binghamton area and the exact ingredients of the marindade are a closely guarded secret. The spiedie itself is tender, juicy, spicy, and unforgettable. The marinade hints of vinegar, garlic, oregano, and "many more spices". Once you've eaten a spiedie, you will want to return to the rather seedy urban wasteland of Binghamton for another and another. Most of the factories are gone but not the spiedie.

Each Binghamton resident has a favorite spiedie recipe and restaurant. Many feel the best place for spiedies is Sharkey’s. Located in a working class area of small houses and shops, the restaurant is a wonderful example of Binghamton history. Sharkey’s has been run by the same family for more than 50 years. Over the wooden bar are the iconic Shultz and Dooley talking Utica Club Beer mugs now silently looking at the dance floor and ancient bowling game that have done service for decades. The “dining room” has utilitarian wooden tables and booths. The walls are green, the napkins and plates are paper, but the no nonsense ambience is rather charming. You can order clams, pizza, cabbage rolls, pierogis, and even salads……..but you want the spiedies and a pitcher of beer!

The spiedies are brought to you on a skewer with a piece of Italian bread soaking up the juice. You have a choice of pork or chicken. The pork is tastier and is closer to the lamb of the original recipe. You can order one or more skewer (the more the better).

After you have devoured the spiedies, sit back, swill your beer and think of the generations of workers, students, and families who have come to eat the mysterious spiedie. Enjoy the “charm” of this upstate New York classic and ponder whether Southey and Coleridge would also have found their way to Clinton Street to discuss the ideal society with students from Binghamton University.

Sharkey’s Restaurant
56 Glenwood Ave. (at Clinton St.)
Binghamton, New York
the weblink was not functioning at the time of this posting
the marinade can be ordered from


spiedies said...

Thanks for your article on Spiedies. I grew up eating them and they are a family favourite. Can you try to get the recipe or recommend where to buy the marinade? Great idea to eat history. I am happy to do my homework!

ShanghaiGourmet said... is run by Salamida's marinade. The recipe is secret but you can order online. I like the Lemon Garlicious marinade best.

Anonymous said...

The article on Spiedies is wonderful, I lived in Binghamton and first tasted Spiedies in the 1940's. They were then made wwith lamb, and the wonderful taaste has lingered in my memories ever since. Thank you, thank you.
How abouty an article on ssome of the 'old time' Italian restaurants too.

Anonymous said...

truly spiedies was started by Luigi BUTTINO,he sold them to customers on the north side of endicott 7 miles from binghamton on the north side of endicott,in front of the local bar's on charcoal grill.just ask any of the old timers.he did't own a bar or bother to get a patton,so soon came the copy cat's the rest is history and it should be told correctly.

Anonymous said...

I went to the Spiedie Festival in Binghamton 2009. Marshall Tucker live in concert,got autographs, Air Balloons all over the place.We had a Great time and plan to return in 2010. The Spiedies were Great ! I was born and raised in New York and they have always been a favorite.

Anonymous said...

I didn't find out about Spiedies until my cousin from Binghamton came to visit me in Knoxville, Tn and he brought some Spiedie marinade with him and ever since then I have been hooked. That was back in 1989...
I send up for a couple cases every so often to get me thru my Spiedie fix..

Anonymous said...

I would suggest trying Spiedie pizza. It is really good Nirchi's Pizza Has pretty good spiedie pizza not the best but worth it if u are passing though and go on front street.

Anonymous said...

They are just so wonderful, have some marinading at my house in Charlotte, NC right now. They are going to taste wonderful tomorrow. Salamida's is in stores here, thank goodness.