Karen Heller: Time to retire cheesesteaks and end fighting

20080630_cheesesteak_400
So Philadelphians, are cheesesteaks overrated? Does our city deserve a better "official" sandwich?

Was it only two weeks ago that one wag quipped that "Philadelphia's City Council appears an extension of LOVE Park?"

Dearest readers, my apologies.

Little did I recognize the tempest in a cheesesteak brewing between Bill "Your Next Mayor" Green and Fightin' Frank DiCicco.

Last Wednesday, Bill wrote in the Daily News about the fattest, meatiest imbroglio of our day: Rick's Steaks versus Reading Terminal Market (the market wanted him out; he wanted to stay), a fight that has raged longer than the Battle of Verdun.

Poll

Should Philadelphia dump the cheesesteak?

Bill complained of "people entrusted with preserving public assets apparently abusing their positions of authority." The aggressive freshman noted that it may be too late to do anything about the meat mess - Rick Olivieri has agreed to vacate the terminal in October, 14 months after his lease expired - but Bill wants to look into similar situations once Council reconvenes after its fun-in-the-sun summer.

 

Food fight!

That very day, Frank shot back with his own letter, which is sort of understandable.

Frank is one of the people entrusted with "preserving public assets," since he is a member of the terminal's board, which Bill besmirched like so many grease stains.

Frank continues "to marvel" at Bill's "inexperience, your political naiveté and your inability to see an issue for what it truly is."

Frank cautioned Bill to "focus on the issues rather than merely attempting to grand stand [sic] and gain public notoriety." Frank admitted to "being a more reasonable and respectful person than you."

More? "In closing, I have earned a reputation of being one of the most level-headed members of Council. I am proud of my ability to build consensus because I treat each member, whether freshman or veteran, with the respect he or she deserves. Unfortunately, with you, I have reached the end of my rope and would strongly suggest that you alter your tactics and tone."

And to think they've been playmates for only six months!

Less than level-headed, Frank sent the letter to all his friends on Council, plus the mayor and the terminal board. (See Heard in the Hall, B2.)

Idle hands are Council's tools.

To paraphase Tony Soprano, cheesesteaks and a three-month recess have brought us to this.

 

A greasy history

Cheesesteaks have really been nothing but artery-hardening trouble for Philadelphia. There's Joey Vento's speak-English mandate, a challenge to many Geno's customers whose first language is presumably English.

Rick Olivieri squabbled with cuz Pat Olivieri over who is the King of Steaks - like it was a duchy or something - a fight that coagulated in federal court.

Cheesesteaks posed a political quagmire for John Kerry. No, he could not have Swiss with that because it's the fromage of fondue and soufflés.

Our fatty sandwich has foiled many a creative chef, given that it's made with questionable meat, questionable cheese and, at the end of the day, still occupies valuable real estate in your lower intestines.

Philadelphians deserve better.

Last week, the Louisiana House of Representatives designated the Sazerac as the official cocktail of New Orleans, a city that could use one. Now, I implore the good people of our commonwealth to name an appropriate sandwich as our fair city's official food, one worthy of our stature, if not our waistlines.

The roast pork Italian with aged provolone and broccoli rabe is one of the finest treats the culinary world has to offer. An added bonus? I know of not one linguistic threat, court challenge, political snafu or legislative contretemps associated with this remarkable repast.

It's time to retire the greasy, overrated cheesesteak and name this superior sandwich our official food. If such a brilliant measure passes, perhaps Bill and Frank can break Carangi bread together at John's Roast Pork Italian. My treat.

 


Contact staff writer Karen Heller at 215-854-2586 or kheller@phillynews.com. Read her blog at http://go.philly.com/populist.