Okay, you need some background so you have the context.
The Washington Post publishes a free tabloid-format newspaper called Express. They give it out for free all over the DC Metro area, primarily to commuters. There’s a guy handing them out every morning at the Rockville station when I get off the MARC and go to the Metro. In fact, there’s pretty much a person or three in every Metro station handing them out.
It consists primarily of abbreviated articles from the previous day’s Post, as well as a bunch of lifestyle kind of articles, odd and amusing news items, and so on. The “Reader’s Digest version” of the Washington Post, if you will, without any of that editorializing.
So, I’m reading my copy this morning, and there’s a brief Q&A with Kevin Smith. With Clerks II just in the theatres it makes sense that he’s being interviewed, of course. I have enjoyed all of Kevin Smith’s movies in the “View Askewniverse“. Maybe because I’m from New Jersey? Partly. They are generally too damn funny and I know plenty of people just like his characters.
One of the questions, or more accurately, his answers, stopped me in my tracks:
This movie deals with the fear of leaving New Jersey. What do you miss most about Jersey?
Pork roll, egg and cheese.
Holy crap! I’m not alone!
I lived my entire live in New Jersey until last fall, when I pulled up stakes and moved me and my entire family down to Maryland so I could take a job in DC. We like it down here, but we’ve discovered, to our chagrin, that not only do the very few diners down here not stay open 24 hours, but none of them have pork roll on the menu. (Taylor Ham is a brand-name of pork roll made by Taylor Provisions of Trenton, New Jersey. It is by far the best pork roll you can get. To many people “taylor ham” is synonymous with “pork roll”, genericized not unlike “Kleenex” or “Xerox”. Just don’t expect to buy any old pork roll and expect it to be as good as Taylor Ham.)
Ah, you’re still wondering what is so compelling about pork roll, egg and cheese. So was the interviewer. I’ll include Kevin’s response:
What is that?
If you go to any diner in Jersey, they have it. But if you go off the East Coast, you can’t find it anywhere. It’s made with nasty compressed ham and it looks like a big zit. It’s similar to an Egg McMuffin, but instead of being on a muffin, it’s on a hard roll. And the ham is probably made from the worst part of the pig. Me and Jason Mewes [who plays his partner Jay] were raised on them, so it’s the first thing we eat when we get back.
Not just off the East Coast, Kevin, because I’m still on the East Coast and I can’t get them here. It’s probably a Northeast thing. And boy, am I craving one now.
Like I said, I like it down here. It’s much more rural where I’m living (about an hour from DC), people are friendlier, and the pace of life is ever so slightly slower. But I do miss my pork roll, egg and cheese. And good pizza. Nobody makes a decent pizza around here (although I did recently hear a radio spot for a pizzeria claiming that their pies were the best “this side of New Jersey”). Haven’t tried any of the Chinese food around here, mostly because I’m not big on Chinese food. Haven’t seen a single Jewish deli, either.
Darn it, now I’m homesick. And hungry.