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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Food for the Soul

Matzah Ball Soup, Fried Chicken, Corn Beef w/ Cole Slaw and Russian Dressing on Rye, Perogies, Gumbo and the list goes on. What do these foods all have in common? They are all comfort foods! They are what people go to when they need a little familiarity in their daily lives; they are what make us feel good.

Now as many of you know, I am originally from the Jersey Shore, just south of Atlantic City and my comfort food is Cheesesteak! Flash fried thinly-sliced pieces of beef, generously combined with fried onions and diced hot cherry peppers stuffed into an Italian Sub Roll, just writing about it makes me want to go out and make one!!

Most food historians credit Pat and Harry Olivieri with the creation of what is now known as The Philadelphia Cheesesteak back in the 1930’s as an alternative for their diners at a hot dog stand in South Philly and as the popularity grew, they opened up Pat’s King of Steaks on East Passyunk in South Philly, where it still stands, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The sandwich was, and still is in most parts of Philly, a Steak Sandwich and as customers always do, they wanted to see some changes and eventually cheese was added as an option as have been other options, such as a Pizza Steak (a steak sandwich with pizza sauce added) and many, many other options.

Being what I think is a Cheesesteak purist, I stick with the basics. Steak, Cheese, Onions and Hot Peppers. My favorite cheesesteak places are Dino’s in Margate (just south of Atlantic City) where I grew up and I still remember their phone number and The White House in Atlantic City.

The White House is probably the most famous sub shop outside of Philadelphia. Back in Atlantic City’s heyday (way pre-gambling), it was the place to go! When the Beatles played AC (and yes, I made my dad take his then 11 year old son to Atlantic City Convention Hall, old home of the Miss America Pageant) to see those flop-tops, they had subs there and their pictures still adorn the walls as do many celebrities that used to play in Atlantic City, at The Steel Pier, The 500 Club and other venues; Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis (who first were paired up at the 500 Club), Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons and way too many others to list in a short column. Thought Atlantic City has changed a lot, the old Italian neighborhoods have mostly given way to, well, let’s just say, they ain’t what they once were, The White House Sub Shop still exists and still has lines all day long.

I can almost smell the onions now!

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