The next stop on our USA tour is the mid-Atlantic region. This area is close to our hearts because it’s where Tim’s dad (“Papaw”) and many of our friends and family live. I fell in love with D.C. while visiting a friend during spring break my junior year. I remember walking down Embassy Row and deciding then and there that this is where I needed to be. So I got an internship, followed by a job, at Special Olympics International and enjoyed four of the best years of my life. And I got Tim as a bonus.
There’s far too much to cover in one day, of course, but we talked about some basics (see below) and took a vote on what regional delicacy we wanted to make. We narrowed it down to crab cakes, shoo-fly pie, New York cheesecake, or Philly cheese steak sandwiches. The winner was Philly cheese steak sandwiches, so I did a little research to find an authentic version I could try to replicate at home.
This version by Alan Leonetti looked delicious and do-able. Leonetti (and other sources I checked) recommends using rib-eye steaks, but I opted for a cheaper sirloin cut. The butcher sliced it very thin and one pound ended up being more than enough for us. Leonetti claims that provolone is the cheese to use if you really want to be authentic, but so many recipes called for Cheez Whiz that I felt compelled to buy it as an alternative. Will is the only one who opted for Cheez Whiz; the rest of us were happy with the provolone.
Tim and me at the Liberty Bell during a visit with his Philadelphia relatives. It’s probably spring of 1993 because I’m wearing my awesome 1993 Special Olympics World Games jacket. Do you ever wonder about the people who show up in your photos? Don’t know who the little girl is, but she’s probably grown up and married by now!
If you’re interested in mentally exploring the mid-Atlantic region with us, here are some ideas to get you started:
- Can you name the states in the mid-Atlantic region? How about their capitals? (Dover, Delaware; Annapolis, Maryland; Trenton, New Jersey; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Albany, New York; Richmond, Virginia; Charleston, West Virginia; and Washington, D.C.)
- What are some famous landmarks from this area? My kids came up with the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building for New York; the Liberty Bell for Philadelphia; the Pentagon, Mount Vernon, and Monticello for Virginia; coal mines for West Virginia; the Chesapeake Bay for Maryland; and the Washington Monument, U.S. Capitol, White House, and Jefferson Memorial for Washington, D.C. I’m sorry to say that me and the older kids all thought of “Jersey Shore” (not that we’ve ever watched it!) for New Jersey.
- Can you name the U.S. presidents from the region?
- Judy Blume, author of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey. My fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Chapman, read this story to our class and I could hardly wait to read it to my kids.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney was born in College Park, Maryland. My kids love these books—and the movies, too.
Next up: the South! Will it be biscuits and gravy, boiled peanuts, fried catfish, a low-country boil, a hummingbird cake, or shrimp and grits? Or all of the above!