|One of our favorites from Ray's in Lansdale, PA|
First, the bad.
We have written about no less than 29 sandwiches since the start of Sandwich Quest in 2011. Can you believe we haven't written about one Italian hoagie? Not one. Shame on us.
The Italian hoagie is not only iconic Philadelphia, but one of my favorite types of sandwiches. I could give some weak excuses like the desire to try different or overlooked sandwiches, but that would be worse than Ruben Amaro trying to explain how John Mayberry is underrated.
Unlike Rube, I’d rather just admit my error and fix it.
Hence the good news!
Today, marks the start of a sub-category of Sandwich Quest focused on the “official sandwich of Philadelphia” as declared by Ed Rendell in 1992. The Italian friggin' hoagie.
It's easy to argue that the Italian hoagie is as important to our food heritage as cheesesteak. Heck, even the word hoagie is Philadelphia born and bred. If you’re curious, Wikipedia lists three possible tales for origin of term.
Some short ground rules for this quest:
1) No mayo!! If you even dare to ask if I want mayo on my hoagie you are immediately disqualified and will be shamed publicly. Don’t ever, EVER, put mayo on an Italian hoagie. It's like putting ketchup on a cheesesteak. Doing so could also lead to being attacked.
2) The cheese is always provolone. Not american or swiss. And sharp provolone is strongly preferred.
3) The meats are capicola, mortadella, salami and prosciutto. I could deal with pepperoni, but expect a strike against you.
4) Toppings include lettuce, tomatoes and sliced raw onions - not diced, chopped or cooked. Authentic hot and roasted peppers are perfectly fine and encouraged, too.
5) Oil is acceptable as well as house-made Italian dressing. No, you can’t put ranch on an Italian (ahem, Kristy).
6) A good roll goes without saying.
And so begins Italian Hoagie Quest. Tell me your favorites and I’ll check them out. Look for my first review later this week. Hint: many of you have requested I try it, so I did and loved it. Let’s begin the debate and celebrate the greatness of the Italian Hoagie!
(I know there are many other types of hoagies and I'm all ears for suggestions of others to try but for this quest, I'm just going to focus on Italian hoagies.)