If I needed an excuse for writing about Philly Cheese Steak, I could say that since the DIA holds lots of meetings in Philadelphia, it is important for everyone who attends one to know what this is all about. After all, it helps to be in the know. So, here it goes:
"During the 1930s in the Italian immigrant section of South Philadelphia, Pat Olivieri sold hot dogs and sandwiches. Business was not doing well, so he decided to make lunch for himself. He had a slab of steak that he could not cook on the hot dog grill. So he sliced it thin, then put it on the grill, added some onions for taste, and put it onto a roll. Pat never got a bite because a cab driver drove by, smelled the sandwich, and asked how much? He didn't’t know what to charge, so he charged a nickel. The cab driver supposedly said, “Hey . . . forget about those hot dogs, you should sell these.” It was not until 20 years later that cheese was added to the sandwich by a longtime employee, Joe Lorenzo, who was tired of the usual sandwich and added some cheese."
Click here if you want the rest of this story.
Now, the story I just heard on the radio from Joe Lorenzo, was not exactly the same. According to Joe, Pat and his brother Harry took turns running a hot dog stand since both of them had other jobs too. One day, while unable to even think about eating another hot dog, Pat asked Harry to pick up some beef. Pat then sliced the beef and grilled it with onions and put the concoction on a bun. A cab driver did come by and asked Pat what he was up to. When told about being sick of eating another hot dog, the driver said, "well, we're sick of them too!"
The rest is history.
The story is germane since Pat died at the ripe age of 90 just last Thursday. May you rest in peace, Pat and thank you for bringing this little joy into our lives.
Next time, the Recipe for a Real New York Egg Cream. Stay tuned...