CHICAGO — If Chicago's once again the Second City of tall buildings, the city can take pride in one thing: Mayor Rahm Emanuel can deliver a heckuva comeback.
As comedian Jon Stewart roasted Chicago on "The Daily Show" Wednesday night, relishing the Willis Tower's demotion to the country's second-tallest building, he took aim at another cultural icon: deep-dish, Chicago-style pizza.
Stewart ripped into stuffed pizza, calling it "an above-ground marinara swimming pool for rats."
But Emanuel on Thursday would have none of it, sending the "The Daily Show" studios his signature symbol: dead fish — in the form of anchovies on a deep-dish pizza.
The mayor enlisted a New York City franchise of Pizzeria Uno — which claims it invented deep-dish in Chicago in 1943 — and sent the two pies to the satirical news program's studio, with a note that said, "Jon, Deep Dish with Dead Fish. Love, Rahm."
Even though Stewart had decried Chicago-style pizza as a glorified casserole — in apparent defiance of his declaration that, "I don't know whether to eat it or throw a coin in and make a wish" — some "Daily Show" staffers enjoyed the mayor's gift, devouring half of one by the time a photo was taken and posted on Twitter.
"As you can see, not everyone on the staff shares Mr. Stewart's misguided views on deep dish," mayoral spokesman Tom Alexander said Thursday evening.
Stewart and company fired back with a Vine video.
As far as anyone knows, the last time Emanuel sent anyone a dead fish, of course, came in a moment of political zeal when he was a young Democrat operative and mailed a rival a dead fish in mahogany box — a nod to a scene in "The Godfather."
Although the mayor was given a mounted fish when he left the White House to campaign for mayor, he's been squeamish about addressing the dead fish references in the past.
On Thursday, however, the mayor embraced the reference, after spending a chunk of the week defending Chicago's beloved cultural icons, and questioning Willis Tower's demotion.
"Daily Show" staffers should consider themselves lucky they were only sent pizzas with dead fish on them. Stewart also panned Chicago-style hot dogs.