The Philly Cheesesteak is thinly shaved steak frizzled and served with cheese in a roll. It is notably the only food that may be substituted for Holy Communion, following Pope John XXIII's papal decree, "Jesus CHRIST, that's good!"
Philly cheesesteaks have their origin in Ancient Greece. It is believed that Zeus, espying a comely maiden, did take the form of a white bull to seduce her. Unfortunately, most chicks aren't that freaky, and the cow was slaughtered before you could say "Shazam!" From its divine meat issued forth that hallowed sustenance: finely shaved steak, grilled into crispy goodness. Inspired by the gods themselves, brothers Pat and Harry Oliveri made one at their hot dog stand and sold it to a cab driver for a dime. If that sounds like a sweet deal, remember that in the Great Depression, ten cents got you a movie, a salted hog's head, and a tin of heroin at the soda fountain, with enough money left over for one and a half orphans. The brothers knew they were handing out gold. Delicious, salty gold.
Pat died in 1974. Harry died in 2006, after a lifetime of inhaling the perfume of meat, cheese and Italian bread. Some say he actually ascended into heaven on a fiery chariot made of burning steak. Others say that shit's insane.
The meat is usually top round or rib eye pressed over medium heat on a flat grill that's been oiled up like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, but sexier. In your mouth.
The original cheese used was provolone, but Cheez Whiz has become the dogmatic ingredient, thanks to Philadelphia restaurateurs who realize it's cheaper. You may also use mozarella or white American cheese. The punishment for using yellow American is two rounds with Rocky Balboa, who also pummels most of the beef used in Philly cheesesteaks until it shaves itself submissively off the bone.
The rolls to be used must come from either Amoroso Baking Co. or Vilotti-Pisanelli. Philadelphians usually insist on the former, which means "loving," whereas the latter sounds like a sex move your girlfriend didn't know till she came back from a semester in Italy.
Chicken cheesesteaks are a common substitute, but shouldn't be confused with an actual cheesesteak any more than West Virginia should be considered a real state. Sure, it's sort of Virginia-y, with the rolling hills and pleasant accents and collapsing coal mines. You wouldn't say no to it. But see right there, where they tacked an adjective on to qualify it? That's not Virginia you're eating.
Some people put pizza sauce and mozarella on a steak sandwich and call it a Philly cheesesteak. Effectively, these people have invented the Philly calzone. Like Dr. Moreau tampering in God's domain until he's forced to stomp on a Frog Boy's neck and contemplate the horror of his actions, the consumer of the pizza cheesesteak combines two great things without any of the elements that make either food great.
Some vegetarians, unable to resist the siren call of the steak and unwilling to accept what's good for them, eat seitan-based simulacrae of the One True Sandwich. Tear off their genitals if you meet them, and cast out their CheezTake or otherwise FDA-mandated cutesy distortion of the term in the street to rot.
And it shall feature a fresh maiden, just like St. Pauli.
All pictures generously supplied by Wikimedia's creative commons, who made us say this part.