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Positively 30th Street Early For The Train Cheesesteak Blogging

May 26, 2010, 5:10 pm

There has been radio silence for the past several days because, although she has many virtues and resources, the Mother of the Radical (MOTheR) — with whom I have been visiting — does not have WiFi. Fortunately, however, Amtrak now provides a WiFi connection in its Philadelphia station, and I have arrived here early enough for my Shoreline train to have a cheese steak sandwich for lunch. Hence, I am inspired, and wish to debunk the following three myths about what is known elsewhere as “the Philadelphia Cheesesteak Sandwich,” or “Philly Cheesesteak.”

First of all, there is no such thing as “the Philadelphia Cheesesteak Sandwich.” It is called a cheesesteak, and the only place you can actually get an authentic one is in Philadelphia or its immediate environs. If you are anywhere else in the country — with the exception, perhaps, of the portions of New Jersey that are in proximity to Philadelphia, and towns no further south than Wilmington, DE, what you are being offered is a simulacrum of a cheesesteak. But no one who actually lives, or has lived, in Philadelphia would call it a “Philly cheesesteak.” The modifier is utterly and completely redundant: when you see it in use, you know you are dealing with a poseur of a restaurant (or more likely, a restaurant chain.)
Second, there are people — most of whom have not been raised in and around Philadelphia — who think that cheesesteaks are nutritionally unsound. This is crazy talk. The basic ingredients of the cheese steak are: American cheese; a portions of cow so tough and unwanted that they must be shaved razor-thin, frozen, fried and chopped up in order to be chewed at all; a white Italian roll with thick crust; salt; and grease. Lots of grease. I ask you — under whose rules are these things not good for you? Particularly when you add fried onions and peppers, you have at least three parts of the food pyramid covered. In other words, you are practically done for the day in terms of nutrition, and should feel free to eat ice cream for all other meals.
Third, I have heard non-Philadelphians say that after a cheesesteak, you will be so full of calories you won’t have to eat for hours. This is absolutely not true. You will need to eat again immediately. You will need a Tastykake for dessert.
This concludes today’s advice from the City of Brotherly Love. Stay tuned for an item later in June on the nutritional value of Scrapple.
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