Unfortunately I have another installment of "When in Rome" to bring you. And I must admit that this one is very difficult to write. Not because I don't know how to express it, but unfortunately I am about to lambaste what some consider an American landmark. We've all heard of the Philly cheesesteak. (Philly referring to Philadelphia, Pa). And where do I just so happen to be yesterday, of course. So after a hard day of work, and having not gotten around to eating anything, I decide that its long over due. I'll finally have myself a Famous Philly cheesesteak. I turned on my GPS, and searched for cheesesteak. Nothing! I should have taken that as a bad sign. I mean, it was like being in Beijing and searching for Chinese food or Boston and looking for clam chowder. To come up with no search results would be just a little disturbing.
In just that instant, I remembered Geno's! That's the famous cheesesteak place out here. So I get the address, and pull up directions to their location. Damn! Its 30 miles from the office. And its rush hour! Plus from the route that I looked at, it seemed to be taking me through the roughest parts of Philadelphia. (North Philly ain't no punk). But at this point, I felt like I was pot committed. I mean, I finally was settled enough to eat, and I had the opportunity to eat at a Philadelphia staple. Well in my life, I tend to try to do alot of those things that I hear about, and eating at Geno's would definitely fit the bill. So I went for it.
After a long drive, probably 45 minutes non-stop, I arrived at Geno's. And as the picture to the left indicates, it was lit up like a Christmas tree. I would ascribe it to your first entrance into Las Vegas. (Coming from California). You're taken aback at how near complete darkness becomes bright light for as far as the eye can see. Well the neighborhood that I went through to get to Geno's was a residential neighborhood. And though it wasn't too late, it was nearly completely dark. (Quick side note to Philadelphia. Some street lights might help you improve that crime problem that you seem to have. Just a thought). As I neared the end of the block, to my left, there was Geno's. A shining beacon, literally. I can't front, as I pulled up, I felt a great deal of excitement. I mean, I was at Geno's. I probably hadn't had this much anticipation for a place since the first time I went to Magic City in Atlanta. (For those of you who are unaware, Magic City is a strip club. Actually, it is the standard by which all strip clubs are measured. Coast to Coast! And no, I have no complaints about my first experience there. As a matter of fact, I would compare it to a kid's first trip to Disneyland. AWWWWWWWW, DO I HAVE TO LEAVE?). But I digress. That's a very good story for another blog.
So as I approach the front counter, I begin prepping myself to place this order. Almost how George was practicing on how to order soup from the Soup Nazi. As I stepped up, I told the lady "one cheesesteak". The lady responds to me, "American, provolone, or cheese whiz"? I wasn't prepared for her to ask me any questions, and it showed when I responded "huh"? She repeated herself, and I asked for American. She also asked if I wanted onions, and I replied yes. It wasn't even two minutes before they handed me my sandwich. This disturbed me. Anything that can come to you that quickly has been mass produced. To me that means that very little Love and care was put into it. She says "that's $7.75". I ask her for an order of fries with that, and she tells me "I'll have to get them from the next window". It makes no sense to me, but I paid with a ten, got my change and took the 7-10 footsteps to the next window. (I promise you that I'm not exaggerating). I then paid $2.75 for some "Freedom Fries". (Don't worry, I will discuss this aspect of the story a little bit later).
Alright, I have my meal. Sandwich, check. Fries, check. I already had a drink in the car, so I am now good to go. I hop back in the car, and I swear I wanted to tear into that sandwich like a guy who gets out of jail wants some P. (We're all adults, forgive me for that last reference, but you know what I mean. And we all know what P is right?). Upon unwrapping my sandwich, the first thing I noticed is that it was real flimsy. I mean, this thing was skinnier than a Subway sandwich. Not a good start considering that I just paid $7.75. A Subway sandwich is no more than $6.50. But hey, like they say, its not the size that matters. LOL! So I go ahead and bite into my sandwich. First bite, nothing. I mean, my brain is processing that I am eating food, but nothing more than that. So I chew a little longer, nothing. OK, well maybe I'm just so hungry that my primal instincts are controlling me and not allowing me to receive the necessary information from my taste buds. So I slow down a bit, and take another bite. Damn, still nothing. As my Aunt Phyl would say, "What the Hell". (To say it like Aunt Phyl, you have to put the emphasis on "the").
So already I'm disappointed, but I'm hoping that at some point this just gets better. I had some of my Freedom fries. Those were great. They weren't the problem, its this Goddamn sandwich. I mean, good fries and a bad sandwich is like going to a Public Enemy concert just for Flava Flav. If you just want Flav, there are other ways of getting your exposure to him. If I just wanted fries, I wouldn't have driven this far, and spent this much. I toughed it out through the rest of the sandwich, I mean, I wasn't driving back to say anything to anyone about it. But the whole time I'm eating, I'm thinking "This is Bull". A lady once said that to me and I said bull what. She then responded "bull-loney". Well, I would have settled for Bull-loney over this crap ass sandwich. And I HATE bologne. (Haven't touched the stuff since I was about 8 or 9).
My immediate reaction was, I was robbed. I just spent $10.50 for this sandwich and fries. Now I am somewhat "cautious" with money, but there's almost no price that is too much for me when it comes to something that I really want. I really wanted this sandwich! And though my better instincts told me that I was spending way too much for a sandwich and fries, I had to have the experience. And sometimes you HAVE to pay for the experiece. (Kinda what happened at Magic City! LMAO!). But this was soooooo not worth it. I mean, I was full, don't get me wrong, but after being to Philadelphia at least 25 times in my life, and never having a Philly cheesesteak, it was a terribly disappointing experience. As a matter of fact, I got a Philly I got a Philly cheesesteak in Mesa, Arizona that was 50 times better. Maybe the whole problem is that the cheesesteak that I got in Mesa was so good that I just knew that Geno's would be near orgasmic. Well not to keep the theme sexual, but I now understand what its like for a woman to be with a two minute brotha. (Talk a good game, but less than stellar with the delivery).
I was also disappointed with the experience because Geno's is an all-American establishment. I heard about Geno's when Geno decided that he was tired of the French constantly berrating America, and not supporting us in the world. There was a push around 2003 that tried to eliminate the term French from things. Freedom fries and Freedom toast were just two things I remember hearing. (Nobody ever came up with anything for French Kiss, so I just stuck with it. I hope that wasn't unpatriotic). I also remember Geno's being in the news when they decided that they would no longer serve any patron who didn't order in English. I liked this one alot. It was around the whole Immigration debate, and in their own little way, Geno's was throwing down the gauntlet. And it fell on the side of America. And in turn, I felt the need to support Geno's.
I respect alot of the things that I've heard about Geno's. Their food is not one of those things. I think that I should have followed my instincts when it seemed too far to actually go there. And then again when the lady asked me if I wanted cheese whiz on my sandwich. I haven't had cheese whiz since I was a kid, and to be honest about it, I wasn't much of a fan then. My pallet is much more discriminating than a busload of Klan members who pulled up to a Barack Obama rally. Geno's did not hit the spot. Funny thing is that my Grandfather, whom I share alot of my on the road experiences with, said that I may have made an error in judgement by not getting the cheese whiz. I don't know about that Grandfather. I want to believe you, but you are the man who made me eat liver when I was a kid. (And you snaked my mom too!). There's something about that I just can't let slide. I think I may have to lean to my own taste buds on this one. Sorry Geno's, the next time I'm in Philly, someone else will be getting my money.
And a word to the following places, I will be visiting at some point. This is a list of what I will at some point be seeking in your area. You have been warned. Either instruct me on where to get it, or how to get it so that I can have the best possible experience while I'm there:
New England - Clam Chowder
Idaho - potato (preferably baked)
Miami - half naked women
St. Louis - ribs
New Orleans - jazz music
Hawaii - Luau, grass skirts,
Amsterdam - WEED!!!!!!,
Ireland - Guinness
Rio De Janiero - Same as Miami!
Until then people, all I can say is "get ya weight up".