About 15 years ago I spent a few years living in Philadelphia. To this day, when friends and family plan a trip to the city proverbially of brotherly love I get calls about finding the best…well, not the best time to visit Independence Hall, not the best museum for kids, not the best place to see fireworks on the Fourth of July. Nope, people are always asking about the best cheese steaks in the city.
Maybe I just look like someone who eats a lot of sandwiches or maybe sandwiches are starting to define certain cities and even whole geographic areas.
Think about it. That cheese steak identifies so closely with Philadelphia that in other cities it’s often called a “Philly Cheese Steak.” Across the state in Pittsburgh take that same meat and cheese and top them with tomatoes, french fries, and cole slaw and you have the classic Pittsburgher sandwich. Pile a sandwich high with thinly sliced corned beef or pastrami, add a well pickled pickle on the side and you’re eating in a deli in New York City. If you’re lunching on a lobster roll you’re lunching in a New England coastal town. You’ve made your sandwich with sour dough bread and you’re on the other coast somewhere around San Francisco. And a Po’ Boy on your plate puts that plate and you in New Orleans.
Of course there are some sandwiches that are universal like peanut butter and jelly. Then there are others that people eat all across the country but nobody will claim them. Like peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. No pickle required.
That’s what I think. Really. How ’bout you?