Dear Ben Franklin, Sorry About The Cheesesteak

Never, ever at a mall (Image via Wikipedia)

I went Christmas shopping today. Finding the right gifts involves a lot of walking and a good bit of internet browsing. It also involves a good bit of personal sacrifice. My sacrifice today? I ate a cheesesteak at the mall.

Cheesesteak Is Holy

Yes, holy. Like my other beloved sandwich, the Cuban Mix, I believe the cheesesteak sandwich to be a holy thing, worthy of our praise. Steak, cheese, onion and the roll. When they combine just so, the effect is magical.

There is a recording of an old Steely Dan concert where one of their road crew is introducing the band. During his intoxicated ramblings before the band starts playing, he utters the phrase “if it good to ya, it got to be good for ya.”. Good cheesesteaks counter that…they are good to ya, but they aren’t good for ya. For that reason, I rarely partake in their goodness.

Some Cheesesteaks I Have Known

I’ve mentioned that my first job was working at a place called Ziggy’s Pizza. The truth about Ziggy’s was that their cheesesteak was better than their pizza. It was especially good if you made it yourself when the boss wasn’t around.

In my days as a poor college student, one of the things I would save my money and treat myself to now and again was a cheesesteak from a place next to The University of Maryland campus called Hungry Herman’s. Maybe it was because I was starving whenever I got there, but I recall those sandwiches being so good I could start eating the smell of them when I opened the door.

More recently, on a visit to Philadelphia, I got involved in a conversation about the sandwich with a bartender. I knew that Philly is considered the center of the cheesesteak universe and that there were two main places where out-of-towners went to get their fix – Geno’s and Pat’s. The bartender steered me toward a place called Ishkabibble. It was even better than he said it was.

And Then Came Today

So there I was, shopping, when I realized that being full of the Christmas spirit was not the same as being full.

I wandered into the food court and considered my options. Something drew me toward the cheesesteak place. Everything inside me screamed no, but I walked up to the counter and I ordered. A chain restaurant cheesesteak, like truckstop oysters, should always be avoided. I didn’t avoid it. I went to it and I paid for it in cash.

This was an awful sandwich. An animal died to become part of that sandwich. I am not certain what kind of animal it was. Convicted criminals eat better food than this cheesesteak. The best part about this lunch is that the taste would not allow me finish it.

It was so bad that when I bit into it, the terrorists won.

I am sorry that I tried to eat this abomination. I feel the need to apologize to everyone who has lived in Philadelphia since Benjamin Franklin. In fact, I want to apologize to Ben himself.

You Can’t Teach Instinct

Like I said, I rarely partake in the blessed cheesesteak. I am rarely disappointed when I do. I attribute that to instinct.

Portrait of Benjamin Franklin

P.S. Thank you for electricity and my glasses. (Image via Wikipedia)

I don’t order one of these sandwiches just anywhere. If I walk in and see it on the menu, I’m likely to pass. I don’t know what it is that I look for that tells me someplace has a good cheesesteak, it is just an instinct. I know when I see it, and I am rarely wrong – unless I ignore my instinct.

Believe in your instincts, friends. They do not steer you wrong. Ignore them at your own peril. You too could find yourself writing a note of apology to a historical figure

Dear Ben Franklin,

I ordered a cheesesteak at Northlake Mall in Charlotte. It was the wrong thing to do. I apologize to you, and to all who have ever lived in Philadelphia.

Are there cheesesteaks in heaven?




23 Comments on “Dear Ben Franklin, Sorry About The Cheesesteak”

  1. AiXeLsyD13 says:

    A good cheesesteak is a wonderful thing, and they must be from a dive or specialty shop, no doubt.

  2. Lenore Diane says:

    I have it on high authority that you are forgiven. But Ben says, “Don’t do it again.”

  3. At the beginning of your post, I thought, “Mmmm…I haven’t had a cheesesteak in forever. I need one…now.”

    But now I’m afraid. Very afraid.

  4. planetross says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a cheesesteak, but I’ve always wanted one whether I knew it or not.

    I’m like that about ribs: there are good ribs and so-so ribs and then there are the crappy ribs … and at the very bottom there is The McRib.

  5. Laura says:

    I was born in Philadelphia. I accept your apology.

  6. They are even better with black olives on them!

  7. shoutabyss says:

    Shopping mall? First clue!

    Actually, I guess that’s all I got. I was gonna give more clues but I guess I’m clueless.

    P.S. Thanks for making me miss meat! Cheesesteak and me are old, old friends. Parting was such sweet sorrow.

  8. I am so sorry. I was afraid by the title, though, that you had either spent a Ben Franklin on it or had grilled one into it.

  9. We Found Him Captain! says:

    Did they describe the sandwich as a beefstake? Some places use sawdust patties with melted cheese on a roll. It’s all in the preparation and spelling…..
    Anyway! I am really enjoying your Blurts. I also think your readership is growing and are enjoying your stories. Maybe you should consider this as a future career.

  10. Born and raised in Philly. Named my firstborn “Josh” in homage to the Best.Cheesesteak.Place.Ever in Atlantic City, The Great Josh’s. Never tasted one (raised in a kosher home) until high school. Never went back. If cheesesteaks are in heaven, I will start believeing in heaven. Glad you learned a big lesson. I learned mine in a middle-of-nowhere place in West Virginia. Oh lawdy.

  11. I feel your pain, Oma! I consider myself a Philly Cheesesteak connaisseur, and I’ve never been to Philly! I’ve had some terrible disappointments too…

    My current favourite is in a mall (but it’s a sit-down family restaurant called The Coffee Mill, not the food court). It has this magical sweet-tasting sauce on it…

    I’m sure there’s cheesesteak in heaven, and you can eat all you want without getting fat!


  12. spencercourt says:

    Cheesesteaks were another of the mysterious foods I encountered upon coming to America in 1970. The appearance of the “steak” is unsettling to me. The ones I’ve tasted don’t taste “right.” Your experience is also why I usually avoid them because I can’t find the dives or specialty stores. Maybe one day I will find a worthy cheesesteak.

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