My inspiration comes from a Facebook update of Jada Smith, by way of Anise Smith (yeah, I’m from Philly too, now in Osaka, Japan) and thus, I’ll add…
The Philly Stuff You Betta Know
Steaks (AKA Cheesesteaks)
- When you order your steak, da guy’s gonna say “witturwittout?” This means, “would you like your cheesesteak sandwich with or without fried onions?”
- Be prepared to tell the guy which cheese you want in it. Be like us: go with Provolone. “Wit” (Like I tole ya’, dat’s duh onions, umkay?
- Hoagies and steaks (AKA steak sandwiches) are supposed to start with an Amoroso long roll. Its a local bakery, and they’re just right. Subway will never understand. You will when you get a real steak at Pat’s – or just about anywhere else.
- Jim’s Steaks on South Street are not bad at all. But they *are* for tourists. “Go down attaway, downnastreet,” as we say, “ova tuh Pat’s Steaks.” Or Geno’s, every bit as authentic and divine in quality. Get hot peppers and pickles “onnaside” (on the side).
FRIENDLY WARNING to fellow Philly buddies
Order anything BUT a sandwich when you’re out of Philly. You are spoiled, dig? You think our sandwiches are “normal.” You grew up on great $5.00 large pizzas at neighborhood joints, and $2.00 Italian hoagies and pizza steaks and lemmetellya’, even a tuna hoagie in Philly beats a Subway “submarine sandwich.” Subway produces abominations, and things that should not be: they’re too scientific and have no soul in their preparation – and the roll sucks dead donkey!
Tastycakes are our junk food. If you are under ten years of age and think Tastycakes are pricey, you eat Now ‘N Laters,” “Jolly Ranchers” and trade ‘em when the teacher isn’t looking in class. There even used to be a thing called “Chikostick” – a candybar that was chicken and peanut butter in theme – but actually worked out well. I am quite disgruntled that Chicosticks caught on but my Vagsickles (you know, popsickles for the vagina?) never made it to market. Back to Tastycakes: avoid the “French Green Apple Pie” thing. Other Tastycake pies are okay and heavy as hell, they really fill you up. Your basic and most important, traditional Tastycake-to-know is the Butterscotch Krimpet, however. (The Tastycake site shows that they make several types I have never even heard of; they two we actually live off are Jelly and Butterscotch.
Continuing with local junk food, I need to explain that “pressels” ain’t junk food, but rather a local staple of our street cuisine. They’re like Knishes in New York City. More on our beloved Philadelphia Hot Pretzel, later.
WuddurIce: Summer wouldn’t be right without waterice, our name for Italian Ice (“Ices” it is called in NYC). Guys scrape it out of big cans and pack white paper cones with it. You get the best in South Philly, and the flavors to know are lemon (with real bits of lemon) and bubblegum (without real bits of bubblegum).
Incidentally, an absolute must-know, particularly if you wish to pass under our stranger-danger radar: only in Phladelphia is water pronounced – correctly – “wudder.” For what its worth, to hear a lovely white-trash Philly accent, listen to Kevin Bacon in Sleepers. And then, Sly Stallone can do an Italian South Philly accent, pretty much anytime (though he’s the product of money – from our “Main Line” area. Locals know what I mean, here. The Main Line: Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, and lots of people who think they’re better than lots of people. Philadelphia old money.)
There ain’t no “going to the seashore.” That’ll get you doubting and glaring looks from us. We go “downnashore” (down the shore) = drive to any of the beach towns that are from 30 minutes to 60 minutes south of Atlantic City (a cesspool) for a cheap beach vacation. Margate, Brigantine, all the way south to Cape May, or, just above that, to Wildwood, where bars are open until about 4/5 a.m., beer and crap food is cheap, music is bad, but “innasummer” (gettin’ it yet?) “dese illegal chicks werkin’ az nannies ‘an shit’ from Ireland are downnere” (you catch “awn” quick!) and they like American guys. Pretty much ANY American guys. (Or, pay for the next pitcher of beer. They’ll like you then.)
This we exclaim, to mean, “I can’t believe you would be so unreasonable!”
New Yorkers play handball. Look it up; it is nothing like European handball, the Olympic sport. In Philly, weez (“we”) gots stickball for the kids. Yuh juss needuh broomstick widdout duh broom part and like, half or even a whole old tennis ball or pinkie ball. If the park’s too far, you play stick ball in the street. You can play until either dinnuh time or, pretty much, until wannaduh (one of the) kids messes up a parked – on worse yet, a non-parked car.
You want to get as close to the wall to collect all duh udduh guyz pennies. Just play wit guyz from your own damn block so yuh don’t get punched in the head over a “stranger’s” penny. (A stranger lives a block away, and thus, isn’t a local, or “from your neighborhood.”
Cheapest way to fill yourself up on the street: a hot pretzel. You can order ‘em without salt, too (we wont be offended, neither!) “Duh pressel guy’s” probably got both yellow and brown mustard, take your pick, there aint no right or wrong on this one. (Just don’t be a dipshit and ask for Grey Poupon, “uh kay?” (okay)
We Got Uhlotta Schools
Don’t say TOO much nice stuff about Temple University, Drexel, Villanova, LaSalle, St. Joseph’s, Textiles & Sciences, or my alma mater, Penn State; most of us did a degree – or a “coupluh yeehz” (couple of years but no degree) at “wannadem” (one of them). They ain’t no big deal to us, as such. We even got an Ivy League one, University of Pennsylvania (AKA “Penn”) which attracts rich brats from out of town. In Philly and even within “jussah” (just a) 30-minute driving radius, we actually have another dozen or so full fledged universities and a good number of two-year schools, like CCP (Community College of Philadelphia).
Just TRY Settling for a Sandwich After You’ve Had a Hoagie
An Italian Hoagie will make a wonderful lunch. “Dey got” lots of meats and also lettuce and raw onions in ‘em. Real men’ll say “extra mayo.” If you are health-conscious, fine, go with the alternative to mayo, oil and vinegar. That’s legit, and one of the two normal choices. If you’re going local, though, say “Gimme Italian Hoagie, light awnna onions ‘n lettuce, throw in some hot peppers ahn heavy awnna mayo. Ahn on her’s, no onions or peppers, ahn she sez oil ‘n vinegar. Which wayzuh (way’s the) can (toilet)?”
Broad and Market
We ain’t got no 14th street. What would be 14th Street is Broad Street, and unlike most of the other numbered streets, it goes two ways. Its busy, though, so take Second Street one way / Fifth Street the other way to go “innanouttah da city.” Be careful when driving drunk and horny “arrown” (around) Broad and Market Streets. You’ll see skank “broads” young and old and very old (and very skanky) who are clearly up for “market.” And bored, head-cracking a-hole Philly cops, a leftover remnant of the (former Police Commissioner) Frank Rizzo era, who seem more interested in you and your driving then the prostitutes.
Connoisseurs of Heroin Know us too
- The Kensington/Frankford section of Philly, AKA Badlands, AKA Zombieland: this is where white trash are created, for generations and generations, and raised and rarely escape and tend to get into forties of malt liquor and good ole’ Philly heroin.
- Scoring smack under the “El” on “Frankford Av” predates me, going back well over fifty years, maybe a hundred, even, and though you’d think they’d go straight to New York, drug-buying tourists drive up to three hours to get to Frankford Avenue, under the “Frankford ‘El” (our elevated subway line) to score “H.” There seems to be a well-trod pipeline supplying Philadelphia with heroin, and for some reason, though the Badlands are only a couple square miles, Philly’s Finest (police) can’t reign them in.
- Don’t call it “heroin,” “China,” or “smack”; The French Connection was made a long time ago. You’ll soon figure out if what they have in stock is “brown” or “white.” (What little more I know I know from documentaries.)
- For crack, you’ll want to venture to North Philly, AKA The Jungle, where I went to high school. If you are low on melanin, a stroll through the Norf Philly could be quite an adventure. Again, harping on the utter worthlessness of the lackadaisical police force of Philadelphia, I recall seeing a photograph of a house that was identified in a Philadelphia Inquirer article as a crack house: I got to see it every day, clearly open for business throughout my four years of high school.
Have We Got Neighbors…
This is what is known about ‘em:
There is pretty much up and down, because across Pennsylvania you just drive through Philly’s ‘burbs, and then, run down formerly-industrial towns, hills and farmland, Amish communities, and mountains with only mediocre skiing/snowboarding. And when you stop at a tavern trolling for an easy local lay who you can ploy with Buffalo Wings and Yuengling Black and Tans (Yuengling: America’s oldest beer and a thing to know if you venture anywhere near the main campus of Penn State, is pronounced ying ling), the locals figure out you are “up from Philly,” and clearly think its, like, the place to be in Pennsylvania. (“Okay.”) Wanna act like you down? Jussay “yo’, kinnai get a cupla Porters downnere (“Pardon me, Barkeep, perhaps you did not see me. I’d like two Yuengling Porter beers, please.” The “downnere” (down here) provides a subtle and not-too-aggressive suggestion that you feel ignored or getting second-rate service.)
This is what we know of up and down:
Down (South of Philadelphia is pretty much South of Pennsylvania):
“Downnashore” is “off to South Jersey”. Other coastal towns even further South (NC, MD, VA, WV, GA, and all the way down to FL) are unthinkably far. If you really gotta go far “down South,” like to buy fireworks from VA, etc., where good ones ain’t illegal, you know duh I-95 goes all the way down, down to the Florida (we say “Flahrduh” / when you’re there, learn to UN-say that; they say “Floorduh”) annits free.
New York: its mostly big and farmy, like PA, but NYC is a place to see, now and then. But everything costs a whole lot more there, so you don’t stay long. Annennere’s (“And then there’s”)… “Norf” Jersey: its got bridges and tunnels to New York City, its got oil refineries, factories, warehouses, highways, pollution, bed-towns for NYC commuters, it smells bad 24/7, and its got Triberr (where blogs get seen). Act like you know it is rude – and could easily get you punched – to talk trash about Italian Americans or sound like Danny DeVito when you are in “Joyzee” (Jersey). A few Italian Americans are/were “Familia” (what we actually call mafia); most are everything but bad guys.
Further North, or, “even more up”: I guess dey got Boston and Rhode Island and other New England places (but we can’t name more than a couple places up dere ’cause its real, real far and for rich people ‘anyways’)
♥ Share this if you’re proud to be from Philly – or we didn’t rough you up too bad when you were there last, for your cheesesteak ahnna couplah 20-bags of “white” ♥