But it takes place on a much smaller, regional scale right here in our own backyards. What sociologists refer to as "urban neighborhoods" have defined human behavior since early civilization. In these areas, residents seek to socialize youth, maintain social control, and, more often than not, share common values, traditions, and culture, such as music, religion, and cuisine.
Philadelphia, especially, is a city made up of neighborhoods. Second only to "Eagles fan" and "Phillies fan," Philadelphians often define themselves in the context of their geographical location. "Northern Liberties," and "Fishtown," denote a much different (and often smellier) demographic than "Rittenhouse" or "Queen's Village."
I have recently myself become a "South Philadelphian," and along with a two bedroom home, walk-in closet, and basement washer and dryer unit, also adopted the cultural context, and plenty of hackneyed "Yo Adrienne" jokes which came along with my new neighborhood. I find this endearing, and have decided to fully embrace it.
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Seriously. Walk out our front door and inhale and you, too, can experience the sweet smell of fried onions and tourists in the morning. Last week, we walked outside and the line at Pat's wrapped around the entire building twice. Twice! Because who comes to Philadelphia and doesn't eat a cheesesteak? And yet here I was, masquerading as a South Philadelphian, never having had one.
Honestly, I never really got too stuck on it before. I didn't really think I was missing out. In college, my roommates used to get drunk and bring back Larry's cheesesteaks at 3:00 AM, and it never really smelled like something that I wished was gluten free. The cheese wiz was all congealed and a gross orange color that even I would be questioning of, and the meat was always a curious shade of gross. I mean, with all do respect to everyone who gets wasted and craves greasy mystery meat deviously nestled in a day old bun- I'm sure the grill drippings do wonders at slowing down your Blood Alcohol level, but I just didn't feel...well, jealous.
But when you see and smell something every single day, you tend to become a bit curious. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't curious enough to take the plunge and commit glut-icide just to eat mass produced meat crap (Revelation: I think I may actually be evolving into someone with a pseudo-adult palate), but when Paesano's ran a cheesesteak special, I had to order one.
Their sandwich, the "Gizmobocuz" officially puts all of the other cheesesteaks (yes, none of which I have actually eaten, but have certainly smelled and seen smashed on my sidewalk, so I feel comfortable making a blanket declaration here) to shame. I mean, Holy. Shit. It is a rib eye cheesesteak with bits of chopped salami mixed in, slathered in garlic mayo and cheddar herb spread, warm roasted tomatoes, sauteed onions, and broccoli rabe. If that isn't enough to have you salivating over your keyboard, it is all glued together by warm, gooey, delicious melted provolone. And, it's all on a gluten free bun.
I really think that the invention of the basic principal of food mathematics which states that bread+meat+cheese = happiness was a revolutionary concept which modernized the way that man enjoyed food. And I really think because that the first bite of cheesesteak I took, when soft, cheesy goodness and the tender, salty harmony of ham and beef hit my tongue sent electric waves bouncing around my cranium was a taste bud rebirth. I have been walking around this city blind to the beauty that is the cheesesteak. And now I can see.
The garlic mayo and herb spread elevate your basic cheese plus meat equation to a level thats quantum physic-like. It adds a lucious herbatiousness that lingers with every bite, taking the grilled ribbons of meat and skyrocketing them to the top of the flavor spectrum. And the onions, with their carmely, syrupy deliciousness, are as subtle and unassuming as fried onions can be- unobtrusive to the basic flavors of the meat but bursting with mouthwatering flavor that coats your mouth as you chew.
So this is what everyone has been talking about all this time.
Some people can't believe that I have lived in the Philadelphia area my whole life and had never had a cheesesteak until I was in my 20's. I, for one, am glad that my cheesesteak exposure has been closely monitered, as I now feel that I have expierenced a cheesesteak in it's purest form, and now would be a crime to consume anything less. I don't care how drunk I am. I can say "witout" (oh, come on...I had to) a doubt, that it's just not worth it.
Really. Stop reading and go to Paesano's before they change their special.