Dear Ben Franklin, Sorry About The CheesesteakPosted: December 14, 2011
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.
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?