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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What Food Is Philly Famous For?

Don't kill me. I took this picture at a grocery store in Miami!
Philadelphia is famous for lots of things. Food is one of them. But what foods really stand out as trademarks of the City? Here's a list I've compiled with some personal commentary on each. Let me know what you think and share your favorites. Did I miss any?

1. Cheesesteaks. Duh. Oh so delicious and cheesy. This Philadelphia classic has spawned many a rivalry. I can't say I've been to Pat's or Geno's, but Michael Symon crowned a winner on his show Food Feud. And Bobby Flay took his Throwdown to Tony Luke's for a battle with one of the famous shops. Personally, don't kill me, but living, working and vacationing in Ocean City, NJ for the better part of my life, I am in love with a little hole in the wall just a few blocks from the 9th Street Bridge, Voltaco's Italian Foods!

2. Soft Pretzels. Yep. I found this author's description of the perfect pretzel and tips for purchasing on the money. For me, the soft and chewy texture with that awesome smell and perfectly salted doughy taste. Bought outside of Citizen's Bank Park after the game--The Best!

3. Water Ice. Mighty Nice. Italian Water Ice is really big in the Philadelphia area. I remember Rita's and I think there was one called Luigi's as well. I don't remember the brands as much as I do the popularity. The awesome flavors with such an awesome texture. Pure refreshment. Now, sometimes these were served with that wooden spoon which was a horrible thing. Go with a real or plastic spoon every time.

4. TastyKakes. "Nobody bakes a cake as tasty as a Tastykake!" I love these treats and always have. Delicious cupcakes. Mmmm. And now I will likely get to eat them more regularly. The company was recently sold to Flowers Foods, and they intend to expand distribution.

5. Hoagies. Unless you're looking for a Martian stare, don't use the word Sub in Philly. It's not in their dictionary, except at the Navy Yard. Former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell named the Hoagie the "Official Sandwich of Philadelphia." One of his finer accomplishments. That link also offers up a handful of explanations of the name origin, but all are distinctly Philadelphia. All I know is that I love me a hoagie piled high with freshly sliced meat and cheese and toppings.

6. Herr's Potato Chips. Official Salty Snack of the Phillies for decades. That's enough for me. Though, these guys make a lot more than potato chips, they are a snack I remember eating growing up. Here is a great photo of a billboard with Ed Herr promoting his chips and the Phils.

7. Pizza. New York and Chicago get all the recognition, but Philly has its own flair when it comes to pizza. This site says the difference is the non-blackened crust in Philadelphia, and here is a blog that focuses just on Philly Pizza (though it could use some fresh content). I'm not sure what it is about the local pizza, but I like it.

8. Scrapple. "Everything but the oink," as I've heard. Basically, scrapple is pork scraps mixed with cornmeal and flour and made so that it can be sliced and fried. If that's a little off, sorry. I don't like scrapple and the thought of it makes my stomach turn. It turns again as I read Wiki use the term offal as the main component. But you know who does love it? My dad. Scrapple was invented by the Pennsylvania Dutch as a way to avoid wasting food and making every part of the pig count. It is very much a Philadelphia-area food, and I'm sure there are places to find great scrapple there.

9. Roast Pork Sandwiches. While we're still talking about pigs, how about something delicious. While I've never had a TonyLuke's Roast Pork Sandwich, I do find it fascinating that many conclude this sandwich should be crowned Philadelphia's #1 Sandwich. Next time I'm in town, this is on my bucket list!

10. Beers. Let me start by saying that Philadelphia has one of the most awesome beer cultures around. If you are lucky enough to read this today, you're in luck. Philly's Annual Beer Week is just starting. Yards Brewing in Philly, Victory Brewing in Downingtown, and Dogfish Head in Milton, DE are perhaps my local-area favorites, but you can read more about my beer life over on my other blog. I promise you won't be left without entertainment.


Hey Look! I made a Top Ten List without really striving for that. So what did I forget? What are your memories? What are your favorite stops? Here is a website that I think some may also find as a good resource, offering restaurant names, addresses and phone numbers.

2 comments:

Michael Jurewicz said...

I prefer the soft pretzels a few hours old to even a day old. I don't like them right out of the oven. I like when the outside wrinkles a bit and the salt all melts into it.

Rita's was started in my hometown, Bensalem, over in Buck County. They rock and a number of them are down here now. Luigi's is just a packaged product that you can find in grocery stores. It's harder in texture than true Philadelphia Water Ice.

And damn do I love me some scrapple.

Rob said...

What I don't like about those pretzels is when they are moist at all. I can deal with them not being hot or even a little drier, but hate they are sometimes moist.

Yeah, I saw Rita's is a franchise now. Pretty cool the story--I think I read it was a retired firefighter that got it going.