For lunch today, I decided to tag along with a colleague of mine. We ended up going to Philly Connection. I got the Plain Jane cheesesteak with just meat and white American cheese. It was my first cheesesteak since Labor Day 2010. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: my first Philadelphia cheesesteak.
How I first came across this moment? Arriving at the moment of having my 1st ever Philadelphia cheesesteak started when a friend from my Tokyo days came to visit the DC area for business. With Labor Day being a national holiday and all, we were both off and he suggested we go up to Philadelphia because he had this “incredible craving for a Philly cheesesteak”. I had never been to Philadelphia so I agreed to tag along. We rolled out in The Midnight Blue Express and picked up a couple of his friends in Baltimore on the way up I-95 to Philly. We arrived on a very crowded and narrow South Street. It was lined with restaurants and boutique stores. Once we found a parking spot, we made our way to Jim’s Steaks on the corner of 4th & South. The line was literally around the block. My friend suggested we just stroll around and check out the rest of South Street until the line died down. We did just that and came back an hour later. The line was much more manageable and after 10 minutes of waiting, we were in. I ordered a pizza steak with white American cheese and pizza sauce. I added sweet peppers. I took my first bite of it and I was impressed. So much so that I copped 2 more to eat at home in Maryland later that evening.
What it meant to me then? That first cheesesteak was memorable in the immediate moment. It was new food and it was good. In fact, it won the Best New Food category during the Best of 2010 Awards on my old blog.
What it means to me now? Today, that first cheesesteak reminds me on my introduction to Philadelphia. Before that Labor Day trip, I had been to Philadelphia only once…passing through on the Amtrak Acela Express the same day of that DC Metro Red Line crash. I’ve been to Philly 4 times since but I haven’t been to South Street in those visits. Tearing into that cheesesteak earlier today has my appetite feening for a legitimate cheesesteak. Maybe, it’s time for me to find myself in the City of Brotherly Love again.