Friday, July 21, 2006

The End of Times

Creator of the Philly Cheesesteak Dies

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Harry Olivieri, who with his brother Pat was credited with inventing the Philly cheesesteak in 1933, had died. He was 90.

Despite a heart condition, Olivieri had showed up at Pat's King of Steaks almost every day until about three years ago. He died of heart failure Thursday at Atlantic City Medical Center in Pomona, N.J., his daughter Maria said.

Harry and his older brother opened a corner hot dog stand near south Philadelphia's Italian Market in 1930.

Three years later, they made the first version of the sandwich that helped put the city on the street food map. Tired of hot dogs, Pat suggested that Harry go to a store and buy some beef. Harry brought it back, sliced it up and grilled it with some onions.

The brothers piled the meat on rolls and were about to dig in when a cab driver arrived for lunch, smelled the meat and onions and demanded one of the sandwiches.

Harry sold the cabbie his own sandwich in a transaction the brothers counted as the birth of
Pat's King of Steaks.

Cheez Whiz was added to the steak and onions starting in the 1960s, and provolone, American cheese and pizza sauce later became options in the concoction along with various condiments and side dishes.

Pat Olivieri died in 1970. Harry's son, Frank, now runs the restaurant.


And thus, America, as so often in this marvelous land, history is made...simply, and by desire.

Thank you, Harry. You gave me more yums than you can imagine.

Rest in peace, with onions.


camojack said...

I make better cheesesteaks than Pat's, anyway...I've been told as much by genuine Philadelphians, if you can appreciate the implications of that.

Cheese Whiz SUCKS!!!

spd rdr said...

Yeah, the part about the cheez-whiz was a shock. Certainly I've never had one like that. Provolone only. My wife is a Philly girl, so I have eaten killer cheese steaks in some pretty hidden places. Pat's is an institution, though, Like Nathan's Famous on Coney Island is for hot dogs. It always tastes special when your standing there slobbering steak grease and spilling onions.

I don't make cheese steaks. It's something I eat out, like Chinese. But if your's are so good, camo, please put up the recipe.

portia said...

I've only been to the Original once or twice (it's in a tough part of town, or it was). But there are a lot of excellent "Original Pat" knock offs in Philly (sort of like "Original Ray" Pizza in New York) and some of the best--if not best--cheese steaks I had while I was living in Philly were not served at the Original. The fact that most of them were scarfed down at 2 AM after a night on the town just happens to be a coincidence.

spd rdr said...

Everything tastes better at 2 a.m.
Even sliders.

camojack said...

spd rdr:
OK, I'll post the recipe on my blog...but be advised: the correct roll is crucial.

spd rdr said...

Crap, camo! Nobody south of Wilimington knows how to bake %$#@ bread! This is a set up!

camojack said...

spd rdr:
I'll have you know that a good cheesesteak can be had on the Big Island, Hawaii. I was happy to learn this firsthand, as I intend to retire there someday. Of course, the guy who runs the place where you can get them is from South Philly, but he gets his rolls from a local French bakery.

C'est bon!