Monday, May 20, 2013

South Florida Needs a Proper Hoagie, Come on Down, Wawa!

Forget that Subway stuff, it's a pale imitation.  The bread is just too Poofy and Bland.

That's the problem, they will tell you here.  The "water is just wrong" to get a good bread.  I will say that there are some places that make some amazing artisanal breads here.  I know, I search them out.

I also make my own bread and sometimes the crust is "right" with just the right amount of crisp.  It's fine for what I use it for, pizza crusts, dinner rolls, and the like.

The last time I had a Proper Hoagie, I was in the Wawa in Orlando.  My best guess is that Wawa has licensed the Amoroso Roll recipe and "process" because the roll in the Wawa there tasted just like I remembered them back in Philly.

A Hoagie.  Not a Sub, Grinder, Zep or what have you.  The name is from Hog Island in Philadelphia.  It came from the Italian Immigrants who worked on Hog Island at the Shipyards during and before The World War One and later.  The women would send their husbands to work with a characteristic sandwich of meats and vegetable on a torpedo roll, and the non-Italians would get jealous. 

Mind you, this same kind of sandwich was popular anywhere you had the lucky accident of Italian families, good cold cuts, the right rolls and the right recipe.  Typically in the Northeast US, Philadelphia, New York, and nearby cities would specialize in these "Italian Hoagies".

They were so common growing up that we never really thought twice about them.   We knew where to get The Best ones, often made with home made meats and cheeses.  Talk about Artisanal food, you can't get much better than sopressatta made by grandpa in the basement, some fresh capicola, proscuitto, extra sharp provolone or Scamorza, parmesan cheese.  Add all that with Lettuce, tomato, and onion, oregano, extra virgin olive oil, and wine vinegar.

The Wine Vinegar would be from Mom's bottle of Chianti that she'd leave a little in the bottom for cooking.  It never went "bad" it just turned into vinegar for sandwiches.

Don't waste that stuff, it's good for you! I would hear.

Food here in South Florida is excellent, but it is not the same.  There are a few Italian Markets, but I'm not seeing what I was used to in those claustrophobic little places near THE Italian Market on 9th and Catherine in South Philly.  Here we have amazing seafood, wonderful Cuban food, and more Thai than I could shake a Bangkok Lady Boy at.  They're all wonderful in their own rights.

But sometimes, you just want that oddball bit of strange food that mom would slap on the table with "Try it, it's from The Market" and you knew you were in for a treat.  Four ingredients and you would have a salad, take the tail end of the salad and add a little meat to a roll and you've got your basic hoagie.

Again, Don't waste that stuff or mom would throw a wooden spoon at you.

I guess that's how I got to be 6'4", finishing off all that food.

But I still haven't stumbled across a Hoagie here in South Florida that would be as good as the "common" Wawa Hoagie.  Wawas were everywhere and what you grew to love when you needed a quick hoagie fix.

When I traveled through Orlando to get to Deltona to get the dog from the rescue, we detoured an hour just to hit that "Southernmost Wawa" on South Semoran Blvd.  It was a flashback for me.  The hoagie was just as good as the little Wawa that used to be five houses down from my home in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. 

I sunk my teeth in and realized "They Got The Roll Right".   In Florida, they got the roll RIGHT!

They weren't shipped in either.  These rolls were made on the premises and I could not taste a difference from the Amoroso's Rolls from my youth.  Heaven on a Foot-long roll in a cabinet coming out dozens at a time.

Getting That Roll Right has been a challenge for me.  It's gotten me started baking again.  I don't have the recipe down, which is fine.  It's right for other uses, and head and shoulders better than the usual "Bakery" rolls down from the supermarket.

But it just doesn't beat a Wawa Hoagie.

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