Wednesday, June 20, 2007


There's a lot to this blog that the readers don't see. Specifically, a number of half-written articles that were never completed. Just petered out of steam. As I was looking through the collection of unfinished entries (for a soon to come "Bits and Pieces" article), I spied this post that was never posted to the blog. I don't know why. It's complete and finished but I must have missed posting it for some reason, so here it is:

Jim. Pat. Geno.

To the uninitiated these are just simple male names. Innocent. Unoffensive. Plain. But to the cheesesteak cognoscenti, these names mean war.

Last week brought us to the epicenter of this ages long battle that pits brother against brother, mothers against fathers and spans generations. We were in Philly and determined to figure this conundrum out for ourselves.


Yours truly and Lindsay at the start of something great.

Across this great nation, from Timonium to Honolulu are places that either mimic the Philly Cheesesteak or develop their own variation. Some are good, others are not, but to understand how all of this comes together, one must journey to Mecca-delphia and experience its' roots.

It was with this in mind that myself, Lindsay and Matt ventured to the City of Brotherly Love.

For the first-time visitor, one only need remember: "south" - as in South Street and South Philly. Our first stop on this tour was down South Street, a funky and hip retail/bar district, to Jim's. It's different than the other two because you go inside, ensconsed from the weather outside - and when you've froze your butt off eating steaks in the dead of winter in South Philly, you can appreciate this seemingly minor aberration.

The basic Philly Cheesesteak fries beef on a griddle, adds sauteed onions and slops it all in a baked roll that's been sliced down the middle and lathered with Cheese Whiz (hence the term: Whiz With - meaning Cheese Whiz with onions).


The Jim's of South Street Cheesesteak.


Motownphilly's Geno's Steak.


Pat's The King of Steaks. With a name like that how can you go wrong? We opted for the full meal with cheese fries and sodas.

So which is the best? That's up for you to decide. After years of trying both Pat's and Geno's, I found myself to favor Pat's. So does Matt. Lindsay thought that the bread was better at Pat's and the meat at Geno's.

Go figure. Try them all.

Just remember that none of them have patience for amateurs. Just walk up with a bit of cocky confidence and say "Whiz With" - even if you don't know what that means.

You'll have a great time.

And let me know which is your favorite.


Paulie Walnuts

Tony Sirico toasts my newfound appreciation for Italian forcemeats.

In my never relenting search for tasty foods, I sometimes "discover" something to eat the old fashioned way: I saw it on TV. Readers of this blog know that I'm a long-time viewer of "The Sopranos" and every once in awhile life imitates fiction.

After a marathon viewing of "The Sopranos" on DVD prior to the series finale, I got a hankering for a hunka "Gabba-Gool."

But what is this mysterious Gabba-Gool?

I hadn't a clue.

But, after watching nearly ten years of Sopranos, I realized that they routine hack away at both English and Italian with weird pronunciations and malapropisms. But I had to know what this "Gabba-Gool" is and tastes like, so I found myself at Cerielli's again looking at their massive display case.

What can I get for ya? asked the counter guy.
Um, well, I heard about something called "Gabba-Gool"? You know what that is? I said, trying to sound cool and knowledgeable.
Yeah, it's called Cappacola. You want it hot?
It comes hot or not.
Let's go with the regular. Quarter pound and a quarter pound of provolone.

The guy goes off and starts hacking away at my order. Alright, I now know what this "Gabba-Gool" is and I've managed to find out without looking too foolish.

Here ya go.
Nice. I got my meats.
Hey, how did you hear about the coppacola?

Crap. Busted.

Here I was at a crossroads. Do I lie and tell them some friends were telling me about it? Or do I stand up and tell the truth that I'm a Sopranos weenie who doesn't know the fine points of Italian forcemeats - and look like a real cafone?

In the end, I told him the truth. I heard it watching "The Sopranos." I'm lame. I decided to take my medicine and admit that I'm just a food jamook. I comforted myself with the notion that I could still go back and not be branded a liar.

I also comforted myself with a nice coppacola and provolone sandwich....


The forcemeat that brought the House of Cards down.