Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Laissez Pork Roll Roulez!

Some friends/coworkers (friendly coworkers? coworking friendlies?) and I went to lunch today in Norfolk. Imagine my surprise when one of the two lunch specials was a "Taylor Pork Roll Sandwich"! I grew up believing pork roll was indigenous to New Jersey and only available in New Jersey. While living in Richmond VA, I always returned from visits to Jersey with some pork roll. So you can imagine my shock when I spotted a box of Taylor pork roll (8 thin-sliced, far preferable to the 4 thick-sliced) in a local grocery store in Norfolk VA about eight years ago! I attributed its availability down here to the large number of New Jerseyans in the Navy stationed in Norfolk. But in my wildest dreams, I never expected to see Taylor Pork Roll on the menu -- let alone a special -- in one of the more popular restaurants in Ghent (a quasi-hip Norfolk neighborhood).

Well, pork roll may have been on the menu, but they completely mangled its essence. Pork roll sandwiches should be served one of three ways:

1) alone, with American cheese, (with or without ketchup) on a hard roll;
2) with a fried egg, American cheese, (with or without ketchup) on a hard roll;
3) with a hamburger or cheeseburger, etc. on a hard roll.

Pepper is allowed, but salt could kill you -- pork roll is already one of the saltiest products on the planet...

To my knowledge, these are the only accepted versions. So what were they serving up in Norfolk earlier today? A "Taylor Pork Roll Sandwich" consisting of: pork roll, provolone cheese, spicey mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions, on a kaiser roll.


I was overcome with emotion. First I was thrilled to see pork roll on the menu (spotted first by one of my coworkers from NC, so the good word is being spread) then I was disgusted and confused when I read how it was being served. There was no way I would order it! I looked at the menu over and over again but kept coming back to the pork roll. How could I not order it, even in this bastardized form?

Well, whaddya know? It sucked. How could I have ever doubted the three approved versions of a pork roll sandwich?? I couldn't even TASTE the pork roll because it was so overwhelmed by the other ingredients! They might as well have served cardboard as the primary ingredient! I ate the first half as served and then whittled away the second half so that I was left with the pork roll, provolone, mustard, and kaiser roll. Out of the whole sandwich, there were approximately two bites in which I could detect the delectable pork roll sweetness. It was such a tease!

And now my mouth is watering. I think I have two slices in the fridge... And a roll. And some American cheese... Hmmm. I'll catch you cats later!


Acinom said...

you know- you could have ordered a TH egg and cheese on a hard roll probably. I mean, if they had the Taylor Ham, they had all the ingredients...

And funny you prefer the 8 slices- I grew up with the 4...

AJ said...

Yeah, I thought about it ("I'd like the TPR sandwich, hold the provo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, and onion but add American cheese and a fried egg...") but then what would I have written about??

justbeachy said...

What an aberration...kaiser roll, lettuce and tomato...no wonder the South was defeated.

Robert said...

Far be it for me to be a voice of dissent, but...

Qualification for my opinion: I have lived in NJ for about 43 years and have downed more than my fair share of porkroll, egg & cheese sandwiches - there is, after all, a direct corrolation with beer consumption.

Bias: ketchup (I will have none of this "catsup" talk) is the American way of putting sugar on everything! I refuse to play into that scheme.

My position: The finest porkroll, egg & cheese sandwich is served with salt/pepper/mustard on a kaiser roll. Further, the best version I have had is from the White Rose System in Highland Park, NJ.

Rational: what is porkroll? It's pork! Would you put ketchup on a ham sandwich? No. Ketchup on a Sunday dinner ham? No.

I do understand that my position is quite controvercial, but I stand by it. (sorry for any typos and the complete lack of html coding on the links below - I am late for a meeting)

Some reviews:

Here is a delicious White Rose California cheeseburger (they are distgustingly delicious!): http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2007/12/eat-my-pix-white-rose-system.html

Robert said...

Ok, meeting cancelled.

Back to my point - who better than Jon Bon Jovi to represent the Garden State? Here is a quote from an interview he did with Playboy (is there any better source for research of this type?):

“The roadside diner right off the circle in Wall Township is a fabulous greasy spoon, one of the real silver-bullet diners. Taylor ham—a pork roll—is a Jersey fixture. Taylor ham with cheese on a hard roll is love. The big question is: ketchup or mustard? Everyone in north Jersey puts on mustard, everyone in the south, ketchup. I’m a mustard guy myself. A cherry Coke is wonderful with chipped ice. Diners are made for Sunday mornings or the day after when you need grease to soak up everything you did the night before. Then you order breakfast and lunch at the same time. That’s the greatest. It cures a hangover.”

I won't even get into the north/south Jersey thing...everyone knows that central Jersey is place to be (unless you are into guido guys with pinky rings or perhaps eschew dental care).

Robert said...

How does Mrs. Schmidt prefer her pork roll, I wonder?

AJ said...

I would no sooner take food advice from Jon Bon Jovi than hair care advice.

Stef said...

Pork roll??? What the hell do you people eat over there???

glo said...

Forget the pork roll - am I a coworker or a friend?