[A Pig at Large by Wilfrid; photos by Signed by Philippa: December 12, 2013]
I've been to Philadelphia often enough over the past ten or fifteen years, but I had never made it to Reading Terminal Market. More fool me.
But it's not all fancy. The closest thing in New York is probably Eataly, but the name says it all. It's an Italian wonderland, with some good eating, and some expensive eating, but it's all rather arch ("deliberately or affectedly playful and teasing," it says here. Ain't nothing affected about Reading Terminal Market.
For those who don't know, it's slap-bang downtown (why hadn't I been before?), and has been around in something like its present form since 1892. There are produce stands and butchers and bakeries, sure, but there are also dozens of food counters. The place feels packed to bursting (especially on a Saturday afternoon).
We doggedly made our way through the crowd to the crown jewel, DiNic's. A long, three-sided food counter surrounding the kitchen space. At one end, a register, from which a line snaked back around all three sides again: but it moves fast. The pork looked luscious.
Our main target was the legendary roast pork (just some sharp Provolone on it, please), and it was spectacular. I'm going to say it beats Tony Luke's. It's more thickly sliced, and juicy beyond belief. A roast pork sandwich sounds kind of dry? The cut they're using, with just the right amount of fat, gives you one moist mouthfuls after another.
That's plenty of lunch right there, but we couldn't stop circling all the other options. An incomplete list: Pearl Oyster Bar, Carmen's Famous Hoagies, Shanghai Gourmet, Sang Kee Peking Duck, Dienner's BBQ Chicken, Belle's Bakery, Spataro's Cheesesteaks, Beck's Cajun, the Rib Stand...stop!
Okay, we fell for Franks-a-Lot. It does about everything you can imagine with a frankfurter (well, maybe not everything), and some of the items looked kind of light. We got a carton of cheesy smokers (or was it smokey cheesers?). Little dogs, surrounded by smoked cheese, in a kind of pretzel dough.
That's dessert right there. That's dessert, Reading Terminal Market style.