5 Questions with Carolyn Wyman of Taste of Philly Food Tour
Are you a foodie traveling to Philadelphia? We asked Carolyn Wyman of Philly Food Tours where to go.
Taste of Philly Food Tour owner Carolyn Wyman is the author of "The Great Philly Cheesesteak Book (Running Press), the definitive guide to this Philly food favorite. She makes frequent expert guest appearances on the Food Network and History and Discovery channels to talk about cheesesteaks, chocolate chip cookies, Spam, Jell-O and the other low-brow food subjects of her eight books, and also edits and writes for Philadelphia’s alternative City Paper. Taste Trekkers sat down to discuss the key foods to try on your first Philly trip and its different neighborhoods. Here is what we came up with...
1. Where should we go for a cheesesteak on our first visit to Philly?
Pat’s – not because they make the best cheesesteaks in Philly (they do not) but because coming to Philly in search of a cheesesteak and not going to Pat’s is like going to the Holy Land and skipping Bethlehem. Pat’s invented the cheesesteak and thus set the standard of what a cheesesteak shop should be: namely a stand open 24/7 with no indoor seating so the traffic triangle consisting of Pat’s and its garish-neon-glowing cross-street rival Geno’s is one of Philly’s most fun and happening scenes (especially late-night in the summer).
2. What other dishes is Philadelphia known for?
Sandwich-making is high art in Philly. Besides the cheesesteak, there is the hoagie (a cold Italian sub, only using the finest bread, meats and cheeses) and the roast pork, which many locals love even more than the cheesesteak. A cheesesteak is fairly bland and so easy to love. But you have to like big flavor to like the combination of garlicky pork, sharp provolone cheese and somewhat bitter broccoli rabe that makes up a roast pork sandwich.
3. What neighborhoods should foodies be sure to explore?
West Philly, for its inexpensive global eats and food trucks (both old-school and new) and South Philly.South Philly is home to the city’s historic Italian street market (which now actually boasts as many Asian and Mexican vendors as Italian ones), the best traditional Italian restaurants in town (Tre Scalini, Marra’s, Scannicchio’s, L’Angelo), as well as the hottest restaurant street in town currently in Passyunk Avenue, which hosts exciting new restaurants of all ethnic persuasions like Fond (French), Noord (Nordic), Le Vertu (New Italian) and Cantina Los Caballitos (Mexican), with others opening up almost daily.
4. What happens on your food tours?
Reading Terminal Market is one of this country’s oldest and largest indoor markets and we offer the Market’s only official tour. Our tours give the history of this 100-percent local stew of more than 80 food stands (explaining, among other things, how it became associated with the Monopoly-familiar Reading Railroad) as well as the history (and sample bites!) of signature Philly foods (like cheesesteaks, hoagies, pretzels, scrapple and snapping turtle soup) that are sold there.
5. What Philadelphia chefs should we pay attention to?
Up and comers include George Sabatino (Boot & Saddle and the soon-to-open Aldine), Eli Kulp (Fork, High Street on Market, and a.kitchen) and Top Chef winners Nicholas Elmi (Laurel) and Kevin Sbraga (The Fat Ham and Sbraga).
Photos by Philip Blumenkrantz, Carolyn Wyman, Larry Laszlo and Jason Varney.