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Traveling Taste Buds: Lets Try Some Sandwiches

A Sandwich, up close and personal.
A Sandwich, up close and personal.

With American foot being a melting pot of food from around the world, it’s hard to pinpoint a staple in American cuisine. Pizza comes from the rigid streets of Rome, Italy, hot dogs and hamburgers from the pubs throughout Germany, and sushi from the historical traditions in Japan. These examples are some of the many different foods that have seeped into the  “American” cuisine we know today. However, one staple that has seemed to be prevalent in many cultures while still remaining unique with each variation is the sandwich. Although its origins date back to England in the 18th century, the sandwich is a unique item that America has taken every which way from region to region. While the sandwich is prevalent in all areas of the United States, the Eastern half of the U.S. has grown a larger reputation with the sandwich due to there being many unique takes on the item. That’s why today, we’re taking a trip to the east coast to see all the famous sandwiches it has to offer. 

Our first stop: Philadelphia Pennsylvania, the land of brotherly love and Rocky Balboa, but more importantly, home of the Philly Cheesesteak. In South Philadelphia during the 1930s, two brothers, Pat and Harry Olivieri ran a hot dog stand. However, the brothers wanted to add something new to their repertoire, so they invented a sandwich that had thinly sliced beef with grilled onion on a roll. Later, after the sandwich gained popularity, an employee that worked for the Olivieri’s added cheese to the sandwich thus creating what we know now as the Philly Cheesesteak. Thinly sliced steak, cooked to perfection with grilled onions (sometimes with peppers) with melted provolone cheese on a toasted sub roll. A delicious treat and one that has put Philadelphia on the map.

Philly Cheesesteak with grilled onions and Provolone (Ernesto Andrade).

Now it’s time to make way a little closer to the Atlantic, where it’s a little colder and the Boston accents are a little thicker. In all, serious, lobster rolls are not just native to Boston, Massachusetts, the greater New England area including Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. This decadent sandwich however can have its origins traced back to Canadian maritime trade. Many fishermen who caught lobster needed something to keep them going throughout the day. Thus, this simple sandwich was made with two simple pieces of white bread. The catch is that the lobster was from the leftovers that the fisherman didn’t sell. Since then, the lobster roll has been refined to what we know it as today, with hot and fresh lobster served in a hot dog style bun, with some type of butter or mayonnaise spread (depending on where you are in New England) with a garnish of lemon juice and cracked pepper and some variants having diced celery or scallions. It now remains to be a classic and staple throughout New England that attracts people from all across the United States.  

Lobster roll with fresh melted butter. (Fitzhenrymort).

Finally, the trip takes a turn back down into the bustling streets of Manhattan, where New York City serves its loyal citizens all it has to offer including one its best: Chopped Cheese. Accounts from New Yorkers vary on who actually invented the beloved sandwich, however, most attribute it to Haji’s Deli, which is still standing today. Haji’s credits Carlos Soto for coming up with the idea, who worked at the store for more than 20 years. While he was working, it is said that he chopped up ground beef to fit in a hero roll after he was all out of traditional buns. However, others state that the Chopped Cheese goes all the way back to the 80s in Harlem. In any case, wherever it came from, it is easily one of the most unique and delicious sandwiches on this list. Chopped, hot ground beef with melted cheese, plastered with lettuce tomatoes, and any other condiments of your choice, it truly is a sight to behold. This sandwich has been keeping New Yorkers’ taste buds exploding with flavor from the bodegas all around Harlen and the Bronx for years.

Chopped Cheese, with lettuce, served on a hero roll (Logimancer).

So if anyone is ever heading towards the east coast, make sure to give these sandwiches a try because they will be well worth the money. As we move into different regions, the food speaks volumes to peoples origins and cultures, so get out and try some sandwiches.

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About the Contributor
Julian Zolenski
Julian Zolenski, Staff Writer
Julian Zolenski is a Senior at Forest Hills Eastern. This is his second year being on the Hawk Herald Staff. Julian enjoys a number of different things about his busy life including working as a line cook, playing with his dog, and hanging out with his friends. Right now Julian has a dream of being a Sports Commentator. He intends to accomplish this goal by majoring in Broadcast Journalism in his college future. Julian knows this is a lofty goal, but he will not let anything stop him from accomplishing it.   
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