A few years ago I mail-ordered classic Philadelphia food and put it on plates in Chicago. It was my birthday and I wanted to share with my friends the foods I took for granted for 26 years. The smells and flavors of the cheesesteaks, soft pretzels and Butterscotch Krimpets and Devil Dogs were familiar to me, and because my friends are full of awesome, they loved it all and licked their plates. Metaphorically of course. (wink)
I have an deep appreciation and affection for the foods of my youth. It is still unseemly to me that there are not places to get pizza, cheesesteaks and hoagies on every corner anywhere but Philly. And in Chicago—hold onto your pretzels with mustard folks—there are no food carts. There are no vendors standing in the middle of the highway on a median selling fume soaked pretzels in paper bags. Which is, by the way, how they were intended to be served and consumed.
So needless to say when I read Deb Dana’s book THE GIRLS’ GUIDE TO LOVE AND SUPPER CLUBS I was not only enamored with Hannah Sugarman and her cooking skills, enchanted by her humor, and touched by her subtle insecurities but I was in awe! The main character in Deb Dana’s book planned an entire supper club dinner based on FOOD FROM PHILADELPHIA. (And we know that means Deb Dana love Philly food the way I do.) Deb Dana and I grew up near one another, albeit in different decades (sigh). And besides our common bond of being debut authors, we’re connected through the unique foods that make our hometown really special.
Not only was the book fresh and delightful, but my dear friend Dana mentioned something I had not thought about in years. The Commissary. Specifically carrot cake from The Commissary—a Philadelphia culinary institution from the 1970’s. I hadn’t thought about it in years and then I read Deb Dana’s book. For me the book was lots of innovation in characters and story, but a lot of nostalgia as well. And because there are so many different foods, places, and recipes in THE GIRLS’ GUIDE TO LOVE AND SUPPER CLUBS, I’m betting I’m not the only one who feels that way.
And if you ask me, that’s the perfect recipe for a great read!
If you live where you grew up, is it strange to think of a food you might not be able to get if you moved away? What would that food be? Or, if you’ve moved away, what food do you miss?