Issue number four of Lucky Peach, the quarterly food journal from Momofuku’s David Chang, the New York Times Peter Meehan, and the McSweeney’s crew, drops on July 13, but Grub received a preview of it today. And we’re thrilled to report that inside this one, which is being called the American Food Issue, Philly represents. In a piece penned by Tom Lax — back in the nineties, his record label Siltbreeze helped define the lo-fi movement and gave us some of our first tastes of acts like Guided By Voices, Sebadoh, Bardo Pond and the Strapping Fieldhands — gives it up for one of the city’s best cheesesteak bastardizations, McNalley’s Tavern’s Schmitter. “I’ve just always thought that for a sandwich, it’s pretty amazing,” Lax told Grub Street was the reason he decided to write about it. “Really, it elevates this whole cheesesteak thing. At least that’s where I was going with it.”
In the piece, Lax gives the lowdown on what goes in a Schmitter, how it’s prepared, where it gets its name from (FYI: It predates Mike Schmidt’s 1972 call-up from the minor league) and how a well-connected devoted cult of its disciples helped get the once obscure sandwich in at both Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field.
Lax told us that he was first introduced to the sandwich back in the early nineties at the urging of his friends Bob Logue (Bodhi Coffee, Federal Donuts, The New Market) and Chris Morris (Philadelphia Brewing Company), when the two were still blazing a trail with putting craft beers and Belgian imports on at the Khyber. They were also serving what Lax calls an “ad hoc Schmitter,” that was prepared on a modified toaster-oven. He added that it was “pretty good.”
“Bob said, ‘Hey, you should go up to this place called McNally’s Tvern and try the real thing,’” Lax said. “One day, I went up there, ordered one, and it was great.”
You’ll have to read the article to learn more.
The same issue also has a pretty sweet contribution from hometown hot dog illustrator, Hawk Krall.