Mayor Slay Explains Provel to an Arkansas Middle Schooler

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Provel-covered pizza at Basso. | Jennifer Silverberg

A mere mention of Provel in St. Louis is sure to provoke one of two feelings: admiration or disdain. There is no in between. Love it or hate it, it's ingrained in St. Louis' culture and culinary scene. So when a girl from an Arkansas border town wrote to Mayor Francis Slay about St. Louis, he just had to give Provel a shoutout.

See also: Today is Officially "Imo's Day" in St. Louis

Lauren Mahoney, a student at Kirksey Middle School in Rogers, Arkansas, wrote to the mayor for a school project about "St. Louis and its heritage." Instead of responding with a handy "Let me Google that for you" link, Slay posted a blog extolling the virtues of our fair city.

For the section on St. Louis' cultural heritage, the mayor explains perhaps our most curious export: Provel cheese.

To fully understand St. Louis culture, though, is to realize we strive to capture beauty and truth but to do so in ways that appeal to ordinary people. Looking down our noses at snooty people is a civic sport.

This spirit may be summed up and explained through the metaphor of a two-word dairy product: Provel cheese.

We already know Mayor Slay loves Provel -- he named April 8 "Imo's Day" this year -- but in his response to Mahoney, he calls it a "culinary treasure." (We agree.) He writes that our greatness can be characterized, in part, by the delicious combination of Swiss, provolone and cheddar.

"Provel, in other words, like St. Louis itself, is not for everyone," he says. "Because it is for everyone."

Yes, you can wax poetic on Provel. We hope Lauren Mahoney learned something.

Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at Nancy.Stiles@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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17 comments
bramoslu
bramoslu

When did it become the cool st Louis hipster thing to "hate imo's and provel"?

Richard Gallo
Richard Gallo

St. Louis is a wonderful city. The people are friendly ,hard working and proud. Feraro's Jersey Style Pizza and Pi Pizzeria are excellent but Imo's not so much !! The crust is the worst ! Provel yuck!!

jomercer
jomercer

I'd like to know more about the origins of the uniquely St. Louis-Metro area penchant for "Jack salmon" AKA "skinned whiting"

Corey Kallmbah
Corey Kallmbah

Who cares what it looks like its what it taste like that counts ,stl pizza rules ,if someone has food that looks good but taste terrible ,I'm going with the looks terrible taste great one

Deb Woods
Deb Woods

I love provel - I just think this particular pizza looks disgusting

Ryan Rick
Ryan Rick

^look at all these people angry about cheese! I will take provel over mozzarella any day of the week.

Chris Settles
Chris Settles

s call a spade a spade....It's shit. STL pizza is shit.

Dave Blue
Dave Blue

I don't hate smoked Velveeta (provel) but mozzarella dominates it. St Louis pizza doesn't compete in the grand scheme of pizzas.

Chris Settles
Chris Settles

It's like the velveeta version of provelone and it sucks.

Deb Woods
Deb Woods

That pizza looks disgusting!

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

Love the stuff, but thanks to moving far away from St Louis, its hard to get.  But, on the good side, I have lost a LOT of weight.  Take out just isnt the same here in Florida..

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