For the Love of a Cheesesteak
I’m starting to experiment with eating meat again. I had stopped eating meat nearly five years ago, not for ethical or political reasons, but for personal health reasons. (Without going into too much detail, I would eat meat and would subsequently end up in the bathroom for a long time.) This was not something I was fond of, so it was with great sadness that I set aside cheesesteaks (the pride of Philadelphia) and the wonderful cooking of my Italian family (the meatballs!) to become vegetarian. I eventually upgraded to “pescatarian” by added some fish to my diet, but aside from that, it was a cheese, fakon, hot frauds, tricken, and shamburger existence—my friends and I have always enjoyed imagining fake meat products as being actively deceptive.
Upon a recent apartment-hunting trip to New York, I ended up in Coney Island for an afternoon. Needless to say, I snapped and had a hot dog. When you don’t eat meat for a long time, you only crave the least healthy and most delicious varieties thereof. I now find myself in something of a meat renaissance, slowly catching up with all of my old favorites.
Alas, there is one problem: now that I am away from Philadelphia, there isn’t a decent cheesesteak in sight. For those who either don’t know or have never been to Philly, a cheesesteak is not as mundane or as easily accomplished as it may sound. A cheesesteak is not just mere cheese and steak on a roll. The magical combination far exceeds the sum of its parts, and to the best of my knowledge, a cheesesteak of respectable quality can only be attained in or around Philadelphia, PA.
As much as I would like to believe that the mere 100 miles separating Brooklyn and Philadelphia would mean a halfway decent cheesesteak has found its way across the border, I remain unconvinced. I could run about willy nilly and try every advertised “Philly cheesesteak,” but let’s not kid ourselves, taste-testing cheesesteaks at every meal, while providing that Adonis-like Philly physique we all love, would likely leave anyone in traction.
So, for anyone previously or currently in and around New York, can you recommend a place where I can find a real Philly cheesesteak? Sorry, if you aren’t from Philly, or at the very least, have never had a Philly cheesesteak, you probably aren’t qualified to answer this question.