Sunday, May 15, 2011

Italian sandwiches and my motivations for blogging (Paesano's Philly Style)

Paesano's window

After my rant a couple of weeks ago, I realized it's really easy to criticize people for doing things the wrong way for all the wrong reasons. I also realized I sounded like an asshat who just complains a lot about trivially pointless things (not that I take back any of what I said). Anyway, after reading through all the comments on that post, then reading Danny's post on his purpose for blogging, I've been giving a lot of thought as to why I still manage to continuously trick myself into wasting time writing posts devoid of actual content on a semi-consistent basis. I won't lie and claim that I write for the "love of the food" - not that I don't love food... just that it would be dishonest to claim that as the sole reason for this blog's existence - nah, in this here post I'll spill my brains on my motivations for keeping this nonsense up, and talk about some pimp ass sandwiches from one of my favorite places in Philly - Paesano's Philly Style.

Paesano's is in the Italian market area (although there's one in the Northern Libs too). They make Italian sandwiches if that wasn't obvious enough. Wait, no that's not exactly right. They make fantastically kick ass sandwiches built on seductively delicious bread. Credit given where credit's due. They were on that stupid Bobby Flay show Throwdown once. I'm pretty sure Bobby boy's sandwich (which surely contained some idiotic infusion of chipotle mayo) got violated by the OG Italian dudes who work at Paesano's.

Paesano's partial menu

Paesano's menu is something glorious to behold. It only consists of about a dozen or so sandwiches, so it's not awesome because there's a bunch to choose from, but if you read through the ingredients of each... you'll constantly find yourself wondering "why would they put _____ in a sandwich with _____?" Will that actually taste good? I have not eaten all of them, but I assure you the answer is yes. Always yes. Also, the sandwiches are handwritten on chalkboards so it's got that hipster artsy feel to it. I hate hipsters, but I love the quaintness of their handwritten menus.

Liveracce cross-section

The "Liveracce." While it's affectionately named after the effeminately beautiful pianist Liberace, the fact that they're both fabulous is the only thing they share in common. It's $8 of carbs filled with - amongst other things - fried chicken livers, layers of salami, roasted tomatoes, and Gorgonzola cheese topped with garlic mayo and an orange preserve sauce. Shit son, I don't even like eating liver (they have this weird... gameyness that I can't quite deal with) and I downed it without complaint. It might've been the shield of salami blanketing the liver, or it might've been the strength of the cheese, but the liver was more or less just there to provide a contrasting crispy/creamy mouthfeel (ugh, I hate myself for using that term). Regardless of my inability to describe the amount of quantifiable win contained in this footlong sandwich... it is awesome. Again, this is coming from someone who generally hates eating liver with a passion.

Paesano innards

Ah yes, their namesake... the "Paesano." It sounds like some dude straight out of The Godfather. Lots to live up to with a name that's the same as the establishment, but oh this sandwich delivers like a boss. I liked it so much that I already wrote a post on Serious Eats about it. The gist of it is beef brisket, provolone cheese, horseradish mayo... and a fried egg, because well... eggs are good for you? They're just trying to make their brisket sandwich a modicum healthier. Basically, it's juicy-ass beef that shears apart in strips with a slight bit of tangy spiciness from the horseradish mayo. Know that last bite of every sandwich? The one so saturated with liquids that it's more sauce than bread? Trust me... you'll be in love too.

Just another view

Then there is the "Bolognese." With an innocuous name like that, you'd probably expect a stupidly basic sandwich filled with meat sauce. As great as something like that would taste, it's completely selling the sandwich short. It's as if the bros as Paesano's huddled around and asked each other... "how can we make a sandwich sound normal, but be as insanely unhealthy as possible?" Just look at the contents: "Crispy Fried Lasagna with Classic Meat Sauce, Sweet Peppers, Smoked Mozzarella, Red Sauce, Sharp Provolone & Fried Egg." Take something as perfectly normal as lasagna, fry the shit out of it until crispy... then shove it into some of the finest bread in all of Philadelphia and of course you have a ridiculously tempting sandwich. Pile on some sweet peppers, provolone, and a fried egg? Game over.

Now, since I couldn't come up with a creative way to intertwine sandwiches with the other point I wanted to make about why I write this food blog, I'm gonna shove it all at the end here. Because I can.

- Someone suggested that, instead of sipping on haterade™ all the time, I should focus on the positives of food blogging. Some of the coolest people I've ever run across I met because I write about stuff I shove in my mouth (that'd be the other 10% of food bloggers). Part of why I still keep doing this is because I like hanging out with those people. Believe it or not, it's not only fun to eat with other people... it's fun to talk about food with other people too. Crazy - I know.

- Not gonna lie, I kinda sorta care about pageviews and all that jazz, but definitely not for the reason you might think. Sure it feels baller as hell when you get a sudden spike in traffic, and yeah it's an ego boner when people cite stuff you wrote as legit, but the only reason I care about site traffic is monetary. I don't know if you've ever lived as a grad student... but it kind of sucks. On top of taking really stupid classes, you operate with a budget that would make Somali pirates ashamed of stealing from you. I clearly don't make a buttload of money off of blogging, but it does help offset some of my expenditures. Obviously this isn't going to be much of an issue going forward - I actually think my blogging at least partially helped get me my job - but it played a part in the past. So while some people are blogging entirely for the emotional handjob... I kinda did it out of greed. Even so... no one likes writing without an audience (or at least I don't).

- I realize my "About Me" already says I started this thing because I used to be fat and I needed a reminder that to slow down and enjoy food from time to time. That part is still true. I freakin' love eating, I think that's pretty indisputable. I also said that I write all these posts as a form of stress relief/entertainment. That's... er, semi-true. It's not always fun when I can't come up with crap to write - in fact that's downright stressful. I dunno, all this thinking is probably bad. Maybe I've been blogging for all the wrong reasons as well. "Everyone has an agenda," and I guess I'm no different.


Greedy Rosie said...

I think you blog because you want to make me drool with those photos. No?
I shouldn't give it too much of an overthink if I were you. You have a great blog - you inspire me to improve, anyway - and you make a few quid and you have an excuse, nay a *Valid Reason*, to eat gorgeous food. Good Times.

Danny said...

what's up my brother from another mother. Greed is okay by me, because I'm greedy too. haha. It's very accurate to say that pageviews are like an emotional handjob. It's hard to mix fun and greed together. That's like a for profit 503c organization. Hard to make it all gel... I'm still trying to think of how to make it fun personally.

Nicholas said...

Greedy Rosie - yep, that's the main point, but I meant everything aside from that :) LOL at quid haha

Danny - sometimes I read your shit and I swear that we're related somehow. Probably because you're Taiwanese and I think the probability of that is slightly elevated. Maybe it's not so hard to mix fun and greed together. I am very happy when I make money, so by that logic... those two things go hand-in-hand. Doing it without making an ass of myself is the hard part. In some sort of messed up paradox, the more viewers I got, the less fun blogging became. I don't know how that works out.

Shirley said...

So you liked the BOLOGNESE??!!!! MY FAVORITE!!! The fried egg just punches me in the face, although egg is muted in the grand scheme of flavor, the ooey-gooey-ness is just like a cherry on top of a sundae!

Nicholas said...

Shirley - I think I still prefer the Arista or the Paesano (both feel more... flavorful to me), but that isn't to detract from how good the Bolognese really is. Anywhere else and it'd be the best sandwich in the shop.

Post a Comment

oh snap. I can control the text here?