Behold The “Chop Cheese!”
It’s a sandwich that’s been sold in Harlem for decades, and now it’s at the center of a cultural battle!
Here is how the New York Times describes it:
“The sandwich, also called a chop cheese — ground beef with onions, topped by melted cheese and served with lettuce, tomatoes and condiments on a hero roll — has long been a staple of bodegas in Harlem and the Bronx.”
And it is at the center of a cultural food battle!
It all started with a video that showed the sandwich, and since then, The Times reports that:
“it has started migrating from grill tops to restaurant menus, from the lyrics of rappers onto the pages of food blogs.”
And with that, the cultural food battle was on!
The New York Times has two great stories about the “Chop Cheese”: where it came from, and why it is at the center of a controversy:
According to the Times:
“As with many food dishes, the chopped cheese’s origin is obscured by rumor. Perhaps it was an attempt at a Philadelphia cheesesteak without the right ingredients, or the result of a creative flurry in the hands of an inebriated chef. Whatever it was, it seems to have been born at the intersection of taste and necessity.”
Welcome To Hajji’s, The “Ground Zero” Of A Food Fight!
This shop in Harlem, called “Hajji’s”, is where the sandwich is said to have originated decades ago.
Now, this inexpensive sandwich has become the center of a gentrified food fight.
This simple “cheeseburger sub” has suddenly become famous, and restaurants and shops all over New York are making their own version…and some are angry that there is no credit being given for the origin of the sandwich.
It was when the Whole Foods on West 59th Street briefly sold a chopped cheese for $8 that the sandwich sparked a discussion of the “gentrifying of food.”
I’m not sure where I fall on this issue: is it wrong to discover food and then replicate it? Should the food’s cultural source be respected – or at least acknowledged?
Here is the entire story in The New York Times, another great article from this great paper – it lays out the issues in much more detail – a fascinating read:
An interesting story about food being “upscaled” – but as for the sandwich itself, it kind of reminds me of this:
The White House “Cheeseburger Sub!”
I had the chance to eat a “cheeseburger sub” from The White House, a famous submarine sandwich shop in Atlantic City…it sounds like the “Chop Cheese” to me – either way, here is a look at it, plus some of my favorite cheeseburgers from around the world – click here:
Let me know if you’ve had a “Chop Cheese!”