Discovering their (Pittsburgh's) culinary heritage

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2010/10/18 15:51:24 (permalink)

Discovering their (Pittsburgh's) culinary heritage

Talking with my 13 year old twin nephews recently, I was shocked and dismayed to find out they have never been to Primanti Brothers before.  Not only that, they had never even heard of it!  How sad it is that these kids know so little about their french fry covered culinary and cultural heritage.  The only possible explanation for this is that I am the world's worst uncle.  Needing to do something about this, we visited Primanti's last Thursday night.
On the drive down to the city (of course, I had to take them to the original Strip District location), Andrew told me about the history of the sandwich and how it was named after a real person.  I told him about the history of the Primanti's sandwich, how it was a way for truckers to eat a meal with one hand (which is why the cole slaw, french fries and tomato are between the bread, just like the meat and cheese), while still working or driving.  We paused outside long enough for a photo. 

Alex, on the left has always been a huge eater and told me years ago that when he gets older, he wants to go on some eating trips with me.  Andrew has always been the much shorter of the two, but has recently caught up in height and appetite.
Even though it was close to dinner time (5:30PM), we got a seat right next to the menu board.

Andrew asked which of the sandwiches came with the fries and slaw on it and he seemed surprised when I told him all of them.  He must have been thinking it was just one type of specialty sandwich.  Since it was their first time, I did point out how the cheesesteak is labeled the #2 seller and made them guess what was #1.  Nobody ever guesses right that it is Iron City beer.  An old Pittsburgh joke, I assume.  Alex ordered the cheesesteak and Andrew asked what I was getting.  When I told him my favorite was the capicola w/cheese, he decided that's what he wanted, too.
To kill time, we checked out all the famous Pittsburghers on the huge wall murals.  Explaining to them who Shirley Jones and Barbara Feldon are just made me feel old.  In no time, we had our sandwiches.  Obviously, the boys were not prepared for how big the sandwiches were.  Alex exclaimed, "Now that's a sandwich!"  I had hoped to get the three sandwiches lined up for a group photo, but before I knew what happened, Andrew was well into his third bite.  Oh well, here are some shots of my capicola w/cheese.

We discussed what made the sandwich work so well and we agreed that not one single element is necessarily a standout, but it was the way they all work together.  Personally, I love how the spiciness of the ham, the vinegary tang of the slaw and the hot on the outside, creamy on the inside fries play off of each other.  Here are some action shots of the boys enjoying their food. 

There was no concern at all that the sandwiches were too big for them and Andrew in particular, hammered his down in record time.  Here is proof of what a fine job they did.

Of course, I wouldn't have left any extra spilled fries or slaw on the wax paper, but for first timers, they made me proud!
Before we left, I had them pose next to the famous Pittsburghers mural.  

Who knows, maybe they will do something special enough to get their own likeness of the wall.  Maybe invent their own sandwich!
This excursion was only the start.  The boys have never tasted fries from the "O", ice cream from Dave & Andy's, pierogies from Pierogies Plus or a turkey devonshire from anywhere.  We have some more trips to the city planned in the next few weeks!
post edited by mayor al - 2010/10/25 11:53:59

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