The other night I was watching some late night TV, just browsing through my favorite channels, you know...HGTV, E!, The Food Network, and The Travel Channel. As luck would have it, I clicked over to The Travel Channel and a new episode of Man vs. Food was just beginning and it was being filmed in Philadelphia. Normally this kind of show makes me feel sick after watching, as the host always consumes a disgustingly unhealthy and enormous amount of food, but I thought I'd watch since Philly was getting some air time.
Well not to my surprise, he did end up engaging in a cheesesteak eating contest- he consumed 6 pounds of cheesesteak on a 20 inch roll with cheese and onions in less than an hour. Disgusting. But at least he picked Tony Luke's which is way better than Pat's or Gino's in my opinion. But I know that comment can be argued to the death, so again, just my opinion.
But the cool thing about this episode was all of the people that gathered around to cheer him on and encourage him in this total pig out. Sure, each city has it's iconic food symbol, and Philadelphia's is no doubt the cheesesteak, but it was about more than just the food. It was showing the friendships, the loyalty to the region, the culture that is formed around this food. It was more than just eating cheesesteaks, it was about being a Philadelphian...if only for a gut-busting hour. The whole time as it was playing, all I could think about was this one quote I read that seemed to sum this situation up perfectly...
A hot dog at the ballpark beats a roast beef at The Ritz. -Humphrey BogartWhen I first came across this quote, I really liked it, but doubted I would ever be able to use it in a post. Well, never say never, I guess. This is a really great thing to remember. It's not always about the glitz and glamour, though who wouldn't want a dinner at The Ritz? But sometimes, even ordinary foods, like hot dogs and cheesesteaks, can mean more than a silver-plated dinner that you're too nervous to enjoy because you might be using the wrong fork, because of the special moments built around it. It's not just about the food, it's about the good times you spend with people, the memories you build and the way these things bring everyone together.
So next time you choose to dine out, remember to enjoy not only the featured specials on the menu, but the time you're spending with your friends and family- this is way more important than the food that is brought to the table.
P.S. If you'd like to see some clips of the places in Philly that were visited in this episode, check out Man vs. Food Philadelphia.