• CNN, you had me at “Mama’s” – your questions answered

    My cheesesteak post has been up for half an hour, and already I’m inundated with questions. I keep telling Austin that we’d have far more success as a foodie/tech blog, but he insists we stick to health policy. Nevertheless, here I am with some answers!

    1) Are there any acceptable options (mushrooms? onions? anything else?)?

    Fried onions are acceptable, and my parents swear by them. I pass. For me, it’s always a cheesesteak with “sauce”.

    2) Other than Whizz and unchopped meat, what else is totally wrong? 

    Mayo is a no-no. So’s mustard. No lettuce – this isn’t a hoagie! No pickles. No olives. You know what? Everything is out, except “sauce” and maybe fried onions.

    3) What cheeses are OK? Or is there only one?

    If I remember correctly, the Mama’s people fly to Italy a couple times a year to get the cheese. I never asked what it was. Like the “sauce”, better it remain a mystery.

    4) Have you ever been to [insert local imitator here]? Their cheesesteak is just like Philadelphia’s.

    No it’s not. It’s really not. I’m pretty sure the grill at Mama’s has been seasoned by more than 50 years of continuous use. Your local imitator probably cleaned theirs last week.

    5) What do you do to people who type it “cheese steak” (two words)?

    I send them to Pat’s and Geno’s and recommend they get a “cheese steak” with lots of Cheez Whiz.

    6) What happens if you eat cheese cake after a cheesesteak?

    I’ve never tried it, but I imagine that could kill you. You have to understand, finishing off a whole Mama’s cheesesteak feels like you just ate a cow on a bun. You won’t want dessert.

    7) What beverage goes with a cheesesteak?

    I usually go with soda, because if I remember correctly, Mama’s did not have alcohol. But I imagine a cold beer would also be fantastic.

    8 ) I loved my cheesesteak at [Pat’s/Geno’s]. I was told the Cheez Whiz makes it authentic.

    First of all, you should seriously re-consider using the word “authentic” anywhere near Cheez Whiz. But I’m sorry to inform you that I don’t know anyone who grew up locally who ever got in their car to drive down there to get a Cheez Whiz laden cheeststeak. The city is like Keyser Soze. The greatest trick that Philadelphia ever pulled was convincing you that Cheez Whiz was what you wanted.

    9) Have you ever been to [insert national chain restaurant here]? Their steak and cheese is fantastic!

    I no longer wish to speak to you. Please delete my email from your address book.


    • I think the quote about Keyser Soze has to be in the top 5 of my favorite quotes now. You sir, are on fire today.

    • Lived in Philly fro 20 years, and still visit wife’s family there regularly. You are pretty spot on. They are never the same elsewhere. I would just make a couple of notes. Mushrooms are ok. Depending on the steak shop extra cheese can also be awesome. Lastly, I think most folks miss the importance of the bread. Both for cheesesteaks and hoagies, the wrong bread screws it up. (Strongly agree on the mayo, which is even worse on hoagies.)


    • Starting a cheesesteak discussion with Yankees is like having a discussion about BBQ in the deep south. Pig, chicken, beef or goat! Red sauce, mustard sauce, pepper vinegar sauce, white sauce (only in Alabama you know) or no sauce just rub, Then there chopped vs. slice and the whole issue around ribs. Then there’s the gas vs. wood smokers/cookers. You just don’t want to start that battle . I feel your pain. Note: BBQ does NOT include cheese or cheese whiz.

    • Just to clarify, I live in DT Philly and TRUST me when I tell you, mayo is ok on a cheesesteak. First, when discussing cheesesteaks, Geno’s should NEVER be mentioned as “authentic!”. Pats is decent, at least they chop their meat. As for cheese whizz…..well, I don’t know about anyone else but I will NEVER eat cheese from a can!!! Btw, provolone sharp is a MUST, w/ fried onions of course. NO SAUSE……that ruins the cheesesteak and makes the bread soggy….not a fan. Oh, you may also want to “scoop” the roll. I HATE when they give you a cheesesteak and half the meat is hanging out the back end I the sandwich. Just a suggestion…..

    • I guess I’ll have to take a trip to Philly sometime soon…