Cheesesteaks don’t have to be just another cliche we’re saddled with, says Michaelangelo Ilagan.
The SAP web designer and Geekadelphia contributor is embracing the 80-year-old native hoagie variation by chronicling how far, wide and wrongly it has spread. Meet This is Not a Cheesesteak, a Tumblr that Ilagan is curating to collect new takes on the steak sandwich standard that he considers an insult to our roots.
“Unlike Rocky, we’re not revering something fictional. @visitphilly called it ‘Cheesesteak Pride’ when they tweeted a link to my Tumblr,” said Ilagan, 27, who goes by Mikey Il. “Let’s make that a thing. The cheesesteak is 100 percent real and absolutely delicious when done right.”
The St. Joe’s Prep and Art Institute of Philadelphia alumnus took to Tumblr after seeing a Facebook posting from a high school friend and another friend noting the new Arby’s ‘Philly’ sandwich. It wasn’t the first time.
“I see many former Philly residents or expatriates post photos from menus or even photos of the offending aberrations themselves,” said Mikey Il, who lives in Queen Village, was born in Olney and grew up in East Oak Lane at 5th Street and 66th Ave. “The result is always the same, there’s shock, awe, disappointment and even insult.”
Mikey Il says he sees this as a hobby, with no real revenue plans, though if the blog were to take off, he wouldn’t fight it. He’s hoping for reader submissions of cheesesteaks gone bad, though he may in time also highlight variations that go a new route the right way.
“The point I’m trying to make in the time being is recognizing the difference between authenticity and lack thereof,” he said. For the record, Mikey Il says his favorite cheesesteak shop is the famed John’s Roast Pork, beating out Dalessandro’s.
Is there enough cheesesteak errors to drive a Tumblr?
“Bars, restaurants, food bloggers, fast food franchises, everybody is seriously abusing their creative licensing on our beloved sandwich,” he said. “I’ve even seen and had a terrible cheesesteak-like sandwich in the Philippines this past summer. It was beyond awful, I’ll be posting that at some point.”
Keep up to date with This is Not a Cheesesteak on Facebook and Twitter. Mikey Il says he plans on updating several times a day, usually Monday through Friday.
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