This past weekend my son and his girlfriend came to visit to celebrate my birthday, belatedly. (They got snowed out the weekend before.) We headed into Center City Philadelphia to go to the Philadelphia Art Museum. After having a great time taking in the latest exhibits, we headed to the Reading Terminal Market for lunch. The Market opened in its present location in 1892, but there has been a market in this area of Philly since 1680. For those of you who want a true market experience, the Reading Terminal Market is a must see when in Philadelphia.
Elizabeth had been to the Market a few weeks prior, and wanted to again dine on Philly’s best known ritual food:
the cheesesteak sandwich.
Our vendor of choice for this tasty bit of heaven was Spataro’s Cheesesteaks. This place is a well oiled machine. You queue up, place your order with one person, they hand it off to the cashier, you pay, and the order goes over to the line cooks who make your sandwich. One cook is just chopping and frying the meat, others are doing the onions, and another on French fries. We had ours “wit Whiz” , cheesesteak lingo for a sandwich with fried onions and Cheese Whiz. Word of advice–know what you want when you are ready to place your order. If you dilly dally, you WILL get passed over. No fooling.
So what is it about cheesesteaks and Philly? There is an ongoing battle down on Passyunk Ave. between Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks. And people are very strong in their preferences. No middle ground, you either like one or the other. But no matter which you prefer, this is a ritual that is so ingrained in Philly that it is a tourist attraction. Be ready to stand in line to get your sandwich, but folks, it is worth the wait.
Elizabeth enjoying her cheesesteak!
not to be outdone by Clayton!
Do you have a regional ritual food or place that you always go to? Why do you go there?What makes it special to you?
Share your rituals, tell me your story!