In The Beginning

My name is Rich Roberts. Well, Richard McCloskey Roberts, with ‘Martin deTours’ mixed in there if I’m feeling particularly Christian but given that my parents chose to pull my name from my grandfather’s, who was, I bet you can guess, named Richard McCloskey, I like to mix it up a little, make it mine. Thinking of changing my name to something good, something like Mighty Handsomeman, or Finland Jones. Anything to get the SEO up, right? Having the most blandly European name out there is a killer for promoting your brand, especially when the popular result for it is some Christian televangelist who misappropriated funds from the university his dad founded.

But this isn’t a place for casting aspersions on the opiate of the masses, it’s the place for consuming the food of the masses! I grew up in Philadelphia — a chunk of it, anyway. When people say they grew up somewhere, the likely interpretation is that [this person] is a master of their hometown, while of course that’s so rarely the case. I grew up in Center City, in the East. The West, perhaps because the Fresh Prince spoke so harshly about it, was never my specialty — not to put too fine a point on it, because a fictional character portrayed by Will Smith got into a fight, my momma got scared. Instead, I dwelt in the shadow of Veterans Stadium, growing hale and hearty on Italian-American staples.

IMG_3065 (2)

A rare, mildly undoctored image of the Whizzard in his natural environment.

That doesn’t matter, though. I have another name. A true name, a moniker whispered in the streets, trailing in my wake like a verbal piece of toilet paper attached to my shoe: I am the Whizzard. The secret strings-puller controlling the Brotherly City of Philadelphia. It is by my approval that food will grace this highest of all pillars, the internet blog. You are fortunate to be in my ePresence. 

I am not an expert; I do not pretend to be. Mayonnaise scares me; I don’t like eggs unless they’re fried; I ask for dressing on the side. But maybe that’s for the best: I’ll be, if anything, a supporting character. The main character is Philadelphia: its culture, traditions — that is, of course, as they pertain to food. We’ll dive into the origins of Cheez Whiz, the Rocky-sparked ‘Cheesesteak Wars,’ the almost accidental origins of Reading Terminal Market, along with a bevy of personal, deeply unprofessional food reviews. So, without any further ado, let’s head down the Whiz-yellow brick road, because:

We’re off to see the Whizzard!

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