Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Beloved Philly Cheesesteak

From a southern girl who loves beef and cheese, what could be more perfect? I’ve been saving this moment for a long time because I’ve heard that a cheesesteak isn’t a cheesesteak unless you’re eating it in Philly. So Chris and I marched up there this weekend to see what all the hype was about (…and to visit with old friends, of course).

Apparently, there are two places to buy cheesesteaks, Pat’s and Geno’s. These two have been neighborly rivals for decades. Of course, in Philly, these aren’t the only two places you can purchase one of these greasy gems. There are cheesesteak stands on every corner. Thank goodness my friends are locals; I probably would have made a bad decision without their guidance.

I learned a couple of things this weekend:

  • In Philly, steak doesn’t mean T-bone, Sirloin, or Ribeye. It means Cheesesteak.
  • “With” means “throw some onions on it”
  • “Whiz” means “slop on some cheese whiz”
  • You’re either a Pat’s or a Geno’s person, you can’t be both.
  • Pat’s and Geno’s may be the most famous spots, but neither are the best cheesesteak in Philly.

My friends steered me to Jim’s Steaks on South Street. The line was around the corner but we were prepared for the wait. These people don’t take their cheesesteaks lightly. Placing an order was such a whirlwind. I had three different people yelling at me “next order…next order”, I froze from the pressure. Finally my local friend just yelled an order on my behalf. The staff was moving at a pace I couldn’t keep up with, and I barely had time to see my options.

Regardless of this high-stress first impression, this sandwich was one of the tastiest things that has ever graced me with its presence. Apparently, it’s all about the cut of the meat, the thickness of the cut, and the bread it’s sitting on. In my case, this sirloin was the thinnest I’ve ever seen, grilled to perfection, and melting the provolone cheese below it. And I just had to wash it down with a Coke...it just didn’t seem complete without it. Delicious!

Of course the bliss only lasted so long, my body was not happy with me afterwards. But I would trade a stomach ache for a cheesesteak any day!


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