By Bob Hamill
There are a lot of cities that are known for their specialty foods. San Francisco has several great dishes but what comes to mind first would be the sour dough bread. Almost any seafood would make the top five.
Kansas City has some of the finest steaks. You can’t go to Chicago without having deep dish pizza along with a Chicago-style hot dog. New Yorkers would argue about the hot dog and you can’t beat a thin crust pizza that you fold in half to eat while the oil drips down your elbow. And who can’t forget New York style cheesecake? New York deli’s are the best in the world. A corned beef on rye could feed a small family.
Being a native of Philadelphia, I have to shout the praises of the Philadelphia cheese steak along with the soft pretzel Tastykake and (I really hate to include this) scrapple. What is scrapple? Good question. I’ve been told that the scraps that are not used in real food goes in scrapple. I grew up eating it and I still don’t know if I like it or not.
I have to admit, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to the cheese steak. I lived in Philly until 1980 then moved to San Diego. One of my first jobs was doing PR for The Philadelphia Sandwich Company. It was successful as it was owned and run by genuine Philadelphians. A lot of people think it’s the steak and cheese that make the sandwich. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important but not the secret. The secret is in the roll. It’s soft on the inside and crispy on the out.
Until recently, you couldn’t get that kind of roll unless you had it overnighted. A few weeks ago I was in the bread isle at Food City and saw the familiar Italian flag with the Amoroso’s logo. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It’s the roll most steak places use. I, of course, tried it. I liked them so much I sent a fan letter to the bakery. They make the usual hoagie roll as well as the kaiser.
You can now get Tastykake and scrapple locally but the soft pretzels, you’ll have to order online.
I’m not sure what the signature food of Sevier County is. Driving around, I would think its barbecue ribs and pulled pork. What do you think? Any suggestions?
While I loved my time in Philly, it can’t beat the past twelve years my wife and I have lived in Pigeon Forge. The only complaint is, last year I invited my family to visit. I have eight brothers and sisters. Not all of them came but there were enough. They liked it so much a bunch of them came again this year and are making plans to come around Christmas next year. That’s okay; they bring me frozen Philly steaks, soft pretzels and Pennsylvania Dutch Birch beer.
Be careful who you ask to visit. They might stay longer than you think.
(Bob Hamill, www.ventpeng.com, www.bobandmartyhamill.com.)