Philadelphia Phillies: Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and the Schmitter?
I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to my baseball food. I'm a hot dog and light beer kind of girl. For me, adventurous is going for the chicken tenders and fries. But that's all about to change.
Today I'm at the Business Persons Special at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia to watch the Philadelphia Phillies play the Florida Marlins but there is something else on my mind, something I must do.
Today is the day I throw caution (and my digestion) to the wind. Today I vow to leave my ballpark franks behind.
Today I've arrived at "the Bank" early, TUMS in hand, to boldly go where no timid eater has gone before.
I've read about it. I've heard about it.
Today I try it.
Today, I try....
Now for the uninitiated and those not familiar with Citizens Bank Park's food offerings, the Schmitter is the legendary sandwich created at McNally's Tavern in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. For years I've been told that you can't consider yourself a real Phillies fan until you've tried the Schmitter at least once.
Being an avid fan, I've come to the ballpark many times prepared to tackle this mighty sandwich. But somehow I've always found an excuse.
"The line's too long," "the game's about to start," "don't you feel rain?" I'll use anything I can think of to avoid it, then I happily grab a hot dog and head for my seat.
But not this time.
This time I'm determined.
This time I mean business.
The Schmitter is based on the famous Philly cheesesteak. But in addition to the standard steak and cheese on a roll, the Schmitter adds some unique elements all its own.
But why try to describe it? If a picture's worth a thousand words, how about a diagram?
That's right, I said a diagram.
It's not every sandwich that has its own diagram but this is not just any sandwich. The Schmitter is big, it's bold and it's all about the layers.
First come the cheesesteak staples with two layers of steak and three layers of cheese all on a large Kaiser roll. Then the real fun begins. Add lots of onions, a thick slab of tomato, grilled salami, (oh yeah, did I say cheese?) and smother it all in a gooey "special sauce" and your Schmitter is complete.
I don't know about you, but just looking at all those layers makes me queasy. All that cheese, all that salami.
Why does there have to be salami??
But I hadn't come this far to give up now, so I popped another TUMS and got in line.
That's another thing you should know about the Schmitter. If you want to get one, and not miss three innings of the game (if Cliff Lee is pitching you might miss five!), you'd better get there early. Once the game starts, lines are long.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
By the way, the Schmitter is NOT named after the Phillies' legendary third baseman, Mike Schmidt, as is commonly believed. (And you thought you weren't going to learn anything today.)
In fact, it was the favorite sandwich of one of the patrons at McNally's Tavern. This guy also happened to be very partial to Schmidt's beer so the sandwich became known as the Schmitter.
Somewhere Mike Schmidt is heaving a great sigh of relief.
Wait a minute...I think I found a loophole.
Maybe since the Schmitter is not named for a Phillie after all...Maybe I really don't have to...
NO! No more excuses.
I had my Schmitter in hand and it was time to face the music—I mean, salami.
Well, there it is.
It looks pretty harmless just sitting there.
Harmless but messy.
OK, The first step is the hardest.
I shouldn't think about eating the whole sandwich. I just have to take one bite.
Just. One. Bite.
One Bite Taken
I DID IT!
And you know what? It really isn't that bad.
I have to admit, it's actually kind of tasty.
It's cheesy and gooey and the "special sauce" tastes a bit like thousand island dressing.
I didn't even mind the salami. It gave the whole sandwich a bit of a tang. (Hey, maybe I should do restaurant reviews next.)
So let this be a lesson to you all.
Do what you fear.
Just bring plenty of antacids.
Len Redkoles/Getty Images
Oh yeah. There was a baseball game. The Phillies won their seventh in a row.
Cliff Lee was brilliant, pitching a two-hit, complete-game shutout. He even had two hits, including a double to drive in the Phils' first run.
The Marlins lost their seventh game in a row, plummeting to last place in the NL East Division, a whopping 11.5 games out of first.
As for me?
I left the ballpark with a full stomach and a smile on my face.
Not only had my team won but I had won, too. I had done what I came here to do.
Now I could get back to my bland food life.
And I had one more thing to cross off my bucket list.