Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Philadelphia Food

Philadelphia is known for several various food "staples", many of which were prominently featured on the bonspiel menu throughout the weekend. I like food, especially regionally popular food, so let's discuss!

Let's start with the most famous one:

Cheesesteaks: Several years ago, I was in Philadelphia, and we thought we'd go sample one of Philadelphia's iconic cheesesteak joints, Pat's or Geno's. They're pretty much right across the street from each other, so I don't remember which line we stood in (Geno's?). But regardless, the lines were so long, we decided that there's no way Geno's or Pat's could live up to the wait. So, I had never had an authentic cheesesteak before, at least prior to last weekend.

This is not Pat's or Geno's, but I don't think it really matters, given that this was my first ever cheesesteak. My thoughts: good, and VERY filling. I actually thought there'd be more cheese; instead, there was only a "hint" of cheese, and it was white cheese rather than orange. Regardless of what color the cheese is, I would have preferred more cheese.

As far as toppings go, these cheesesteaks came with nothing on them (other than the cheese, although you can get them without cheese). The way I like 'em! Most people put onions or tomatoes or peppers or something on them, but not me. Several people put ketchup on them, which really surprised me. I had just assumed that putting ketchup on a Philadelphia cheesesteak would be heresy, especially if said ketchup came from that city on the other side of the state. But I guess not?

So, anyway, cheesesteaks are good, and it's something different, although you could probably get a "footlong steak sub with cheese" at Subway if you wanted to. Because let's be honest, that's all this is, although I'm sure the cheesesteak I had was far better than the Subway equivalent. I still don't feel like I need to try Pat's or Geno's, though.

Hoagies: Don't call them subs! Philadelphians (?) call them hoagies. And based on the one "hoagie" I had last weekend (assuming that a cheesesteak does not count as a "hoagie", although it very well could be), they actually seem a little different. As in, when you're eating it, you get the sense that it's more than just meat on a bun. Whatever extra stuff they put on it, it worked. I'm a fan.

Soft pretzels: And now, my favorite Philadelphia food item. In most of the country, it seems the only place you can get a soft pretzel is "SuperPretzel"-branded pretzels at sporting events. But in Philadelphia, you can get soft pretzels almost as easily as you can get donuts, and for MUCH cheaper than at sporting events. As in, 12 times cheaper. Yes!

This is Jim's, located just down the street from the curling rink. We got a dozen soft pretzels for $4. That sounds like a great deal, and it is, when you consider that ONE soft pretzel typically costs $4 at a baseball game. However, by the next day, the pretzels are pretty soggy, and by the second day (e.g. by the time we got back home), they're pretty much unedible. So, better eat them fast! And that we did, mostly. The soft pretzels are what I'll miss about Philadelphia the most.

Tastykakes (TM): In Philadelphia, the word "Twinkie" is a bad word. (At least, I would assume as much.) Philadelphia is TASTYKAKE (TM) country.

They set up a dedicated Tastykake (TM) table at the curling rink (right next to the soft pretzel tray), and I had a few. Most other people had more than a few. My take: obviously, they're delicious, but if I'm going to be consuming that many calories in such a short period of time, I prefer Little Debbies. Where are Little Debbies made? And are there any curling tournaments there? (Answers: they're headquartered near Chattanooga, and, no.)

That said, Philadelphians (?) are very proud of their Tastykakes (TM). I don't know how popular they are outside of southeast Pennsylvania, but I have seen them in our neighborhood Kroger before. I wouldn't guess that they have much in the way of market share outside of Philadelphia, but for all I know, maybe they do?

Pizzas: Finally, there seemed to be a local pizza joint on every other street corner around here. We didn't have any pizza while we were up there, so I can't comment on it. You can get a pizza pretty much anywhere, of course; is there anything "special" about Philadelphia pizza, ala New York and Chicago?

1 comment:

bubba0077 said...

I can't believe you never had a cheesesteak. There are several places in State College to get a decent one, and I could've made one for that matter. Most people use peppers and/or onions, but I also prefer them plain. Pat's or Geno's (don't remember which) actually use Cheese Whiz, but I prefer cheddar. I'm told Pat's and Geno's are both overrated.

Supermarkets in most places (except California, annoyingly) carry Steak-Umms or some other brand of thinly sliced steaks for cheesesteaks. They're really easy to prepare, the hardest part can be finding appropriate rolls.

Pizza in Philly (and all of NJ) is pretty much "New-York style" pizza with the hand-tossed foldable crust.