We’ve had real Philadelphia cheesesteaks here in Wisconsin for the last two days.
You would think that in a state full of beef and cheese getting a decent cheesesteak would not be a problem, but you would be wrong. Nobody in the midwest knows how to make a crusty roll. Nor do they know how to prepare the meat. It’s not a complicated meal, but it does have to be done right.
Fortunately, there is Havertown Pizza, my new favorite restaurant in the entire world.
I spent this past weekend visiting my parents, because I could. As you get older and busier you realize that you want to do that more and opportunities to do that are fewer, so when they arise you should take them. Plus my dad’s birthday is around now, close enough to count anyway, and that was all the excuse I could possibly need. I would be on my own on this trip, as the girls are back in school and Kim had to be on campus, but there you have it.
So I packed up my bags, hopped in the car, and headed east, staying just ahead of the snowstorm that followed me across the country like a Congressman looking for a handout.
It was a glorious weekend.
My brother came down from New York, so it was the four of us once again. We watched football games (yes, the Dallas Cowboys got completely jobbed by that call; no, I’m not upset about it), ate cheesesteaks, and generally hung out as we did back in the 80s before anyone had moved out into the world on their own and far away. And when Jenny, whom I have known since high school, came over for a brief visit, it just made the feeling that much more so. It was lovely to see her as well.
When my family gets together we like to eat and talk. We’re good at it. We enjoy it. We look forward to it. The big meal this weekend was Saturday night, when Keith and I took our parents out for my dad’s birthday. If you’ve ever wondered why it is that you have a job and have to get out of your nice warm bed on cold dark mornings, remember that one reason is so that you can do things like that. We had a grand time.
But mostly we hung out at home, enjoying each other’s company until it was time to go.
On Sunday I stopped over at Havertown Pizza to pick up cheesesteaks for lunch – they make a fantastic cheesesteak, trust me on this – and got to talking with the guy who I think owns the place. I’m pretty sure he was surprised to see me, since I had just done the same thing not 24 hours earlier, but I explained that I was stocking up on my hometown foods since good cheesesteaks are nowhere to be had in Wisconsin. Ah, he said. If I wanted him to, he’d fry up the meat and package it separately from the rolls and the cheese and I could make them when I got home. “Just freeze it all and let it thaw while you drive and you’ll be fine.”
How can you turn down an offer like that?
They kept just fine while I drove across Philadelphia and stopped overnight to see Mike, Krista and Eli in Pittsburgh – another fine evening of eating and talking among good people.
They kept just fine while I drove from there to Wisconsin.
And then we ate them and all of the good times of the last few days were there with us even as new good times came about, because that is what good food does.