Earl and I are just back from Geno’s Steaks in South Philly. We try to get a “mushroom provolone wit” at least once a year during our trips to these parts.

One of the things about Geno’s is that it’s VERY U.S.A. centric. There are signs all over proclaiming that “we want our country back” and “You are in America and you must order in English.” They even feature Freedom Fries. I’m cool with this in that I think it’s great that as U.S. Citizens we can proclaim our pride in our country in any way we feel appropriate, much like I do on my blog. So I keep my mouth shut and try to blend in with the local culture. (I don’t succeed in this very well.)

After ordering and receiving our steaks we moved on to the fries and drink window, where Earl placed an order and asked if I had any dollar bills. I pulled out my wallet and started fumbling through my money clip when the woman behind the window noticed me. (Ed. note 23 Aug 2009: looking at Geno’s site, it’s Betty I’m referring to.) She looked harmless enough; I’d say she was in her mid 50s and had been through the course of life. She was efficient in what she did and had a hardened, Philly appropriate demeanor I suppose.

“WHERE IS THAT MONEY FROM?” she barked out the window. Numerous pairs of eyes were suddenly on the bald guy that was trying to keep his mouth shut whilst standing at the window waiting for his “pop” in “soda” land. I kept the “u” out of the local flavour I was trying to drink in. She was referring to the ten dollar bill I had in my hand.

The bill she was referring to is pinkish-purple with wording in both English and French. Of course, it’s Canadian money.

Startled a little bit, I jump in my skin but quickly regain composure. I think I heard a smirk from Earl, but I can’t be sure. I barked back at her, “it’s from Canada”. I looked at her as I said it with a smile, she smiled back at me with a twinkle in her eye. She took me for a Canadian and appeared okay with that.

I didn’t bother to correct her. But I kept my fries as Freedom Fries. I didn’t want to push the point.


  1. I’ve never had the pleasure of having an authentic philly cheese steak sandwich even though they are legendary. When we lived in Chicagoland we used to get Italian beef sandwiches. I suppose that’s a fairly close analog.

    I went to the Geno’s website. Those folks need some help with their food photography! That sandwich looks awful, and it wouldn’t take much effort to make and photograph one that actually looked desirable.

  2. Yummy…Freedom Fries (even though I think the origin of them is quite silly…). I still dig the fries. I did see a program on the Food Network wherein they profiled two different Philly Steak places just across the street from one another in Philadelphia….is this the place?

    1. Yep… Earl and I went to Geno’s Steak which is right across the street from Pat’s. Pat’s has been around 1930 and Geno’s has been around since the mid 1960s but Earl and I think Geno’s is better. Geno is actually named John but John’s Steak was already taken (there’s a joke in there somewhere).

      Geno’s was much busier than Pat’s.

      You should go there sometime, I personally enjoy it, even the freedom fries! 🙂

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