|Phillies scrapple. Photo: Melody Kramer, Flickr.
The most powerful elected representatives from both New York and Pennsylvania have made a polite World Series food wager on the eve of the baseball match-up. If the Phillies win, Sens. Arlen Specter and Bob Casey will get New York cheesecake. If the Yankees win, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand get Philly cheesesteaks.
What cliché and unoriginal choices, especially since both those old standbys can be found in the food court of any American mall. They don't accurately reflect the soul of either city. What two foods best sum up these two complex metropolises?
Both the Big Apple and the City of Brotherly Love are foodie oases full of daring cuisines and palates, huge portions and appetites. But the chow that defines each city's culinary identity isn't found on the tourist strips or in its most venerated restaurants. It's the historically working-class grub that has stuck around for generations because it's cheap, satisfying and delicious.
For New York City, it's the knish, and it's scrapple for Philly.
Knishes are those inexpensive Yiddish dumplings about the size of a large fist, stuffed with mashed potatoes. They're simple and portable and when covered in mustard, taste like the rebellious older brother of French fries and ketchup.
Scrapple, on the other hand, is a glorious, mysterious meat. "Redneck paté" as it's sometimes called, is a fantastic mush of pork parts, trimmings, seasonings and cornmeal. It's fried and tastes like a beautiful mix of crispy hash browns and deeply flavorsome piggy.
These are the true foods of this 2009 World Series match-up. Perhaps the honorable Specter, Casey, Schumer and Gillibrand should have made their World Series food wager on metric tons of mashed potatoes and pork unmentionables.
Go Yankees! Go Phillies! Go Scrapple! Go Knishes!
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