So I recently spent a week in Philadelphia. Now I’ve traveled a fair bit in my time, but not extensively in the US. I mostly only know the West Coast. Philly is like a whole different country.

Here are some random thoughts:

1. Styrofoam what??? Isn’t it illegal? I thought only barbarians were still using it, but we were served by perfectly nice people who seemed to think it was okay. It’s not okay, Philly. Not okay.

2. Coffee WHA???? People people people. Folgers is not coffee. Dunkin’ Donuts is not only grammatically egregious, (do they mean dunking doughnuts? Why name a business a gerund?) but their coffee, um, sucks. Good coffee is hard to find in this city of brotherly love. Maybe they feel caffeine would ruin things, but I find it hard to love my fellow man without some decent brew sloshing about inside me. And bad coffee served in Styrofoam? Ouch. It was hard not to take it personally, like they were telling me to take my European coffee and snort it up my nose.

3. Ok, all the old brick buildings are super cool. And the murals? Yes. The murals are super super cool.

4. LOVE the old stone churches, although seriously, you’ve got a LOT. I feel like every time they gathered 3 or more people together, they decided they needed to put up another large stone ediface. Literally ever other block seemed to have one.

5. Speaking of people, Philadelphians in general live up to their city’s name. They are friendly and full of advice. Another thing, everybody has a favorite deli, and if you are wondering what it is, just ask. One man explained that the deli where we were all waiting for our sandwiches was where he came for his deli sandwiches, but, he muttered behind his hand, there was another deli where you should go for your cheesesteaks. He was a large black man who barely fit in the deli’s one chair, where he was waiting. He told us about the best Philly cheesesteak sandwich in the city. “Now you are your wife should share one,” he told Donn. “I can eat a whole one, but that’s not a skill you want to acquire.” The train conductor had a completely different place he recommended for cheesesteaks. We did our best, but there is a limited number of large sandwiches one couple can eat. Perhaps if we’d split up?

6. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it seemed perhaps a lot of people had acquired the skills necessary to eat the entire cheesesteak sandwich.

7. All the old rowhomes are pretty cool too. The neighbourhoods have a lot of character.

8. There is a palace downtown. I never did figure out what it was being used for. Do we have royalty here? Maybe it’s where visiting royalty stay? They were doing some sort of renovation. I did look for signs.

palace

9. Of course the historical part is fascinating, although since we were in meetings all day, the best we could do was go downtown via subway once we got out and wander round looking at the outsides of things, since places were closed. I didn’t mind. We did visit once before, years ago, and got to go inside places.

bell

10. Ethnic restaurants. I thought Portland was pretty good, but no, we are a cultural wasteland. We ate Punjabi food and Moroccan food and, best of all, Senegalese food. I was excited and kept texting the kids, who requested that I bring them some in my suitcase. Um, no. The Yassa Poulet (pictured below) was super-oily, just like it should be. They also had great bissop (a sort of tea made from steeping dried hibiscus flowers) AND really yummy spicy ginger juice, just like Howa used to make it.

I haven’t had Senegalese food since we left Mauritania in 2007. That’s a long time without good Yassa. We even met a Mauritanian man in the restaurant! (Aside: for newer readers, we lived in Mauritania which is just north of Senegal, and they share a lot of the same cuisine, and we vacationed in Senegal where we would buy Yassa from women cooking in on the beach in the evenings.) But, of course, mostly we ate hoagies. They get their own post, coming soon.

yassa

(Insert usual whining about lack of actual camera and limitations of iPhone, which really I am super thankful for. I love my smart phone)

I’m pretty sure I have more thoughts, but that’s all I can remember right now. Have you ever been to Philly? What did you think? Where was your favorite deli? Did you have a different favorite deli for hoagies and for cheesesteaks? Can you eat an entire sandwich? Don’t worry; we won’t judge.

Advertisements