Italian Beef – Go Dipped Or Go Home

Posted on Wednesday, Jul 29, 2009

If you are local to Chicago, pick up a copy of today’s RedEye, and turn to page 4. There you will see an article debating the relative merits of “dipped” vs. “undipped” for the Chicago delicacy known as the Italian beef sandwich.

For the uninformed, a “dipped” beef sandwich is one in which, after the beef has been perfectly placed upon the torpedo roll, the entire sandwich is then submerged, ever so briefly, in the au jus from which the beef came. This results in a permeation of the beef juice throughout the bread, which is, in a word, delicious.

And why should one only consume Italian beef sandwiches that have been properly dipped? Here is my pro-dipping argument, as printed in the July 29, 2009 edition of the Red Eye:

The first reason to get your beef dipped: to remove any question of the freshness of the bread. You can never be sure how fresh those torpedo rolls might be – but even if the roll is slightly stale, a quick juice bath will freshen it right up. I also believe that the deliciousness should extend throughout the entire sandwich experience – every single bite should burst with explosive beefy wonder. Without dipping, you run the risk of a few dry bites. This is unacceptable

The RedEye did leave off my concluding statement, which was as follows:

Perhaps the most important reason for dipped beef? Someone’s gotta keep those paper napkin factories in business.

I’m sure that the RedEye will no doubt claim that this was clipped due to ‘space constraints’ or some other journalistic jargon, but in reality, I believe this exposes the stranglehold that the paper napkin cartels have over the media in this country. If this doesn’t frighten you, you’re just as naive as Kay Adams.

My position on beef dippage has generally garnered support and agreement from family friends:

“There are maybe 5 men in the world I’d consider credible on this topic and you are one of them.” – TheCook (real name withheld)

“I am proud, and I support your position 100%.” – Jeff R.

“Everyone gets one shot a fame. Unfortunately yours was wasted on a quote in the RedEye about a sandwich. PS. I like my beef dipped too.” – Dan Schultz

“I feel slightly hungry for meat way too early in the morning.” – My sister Debbie

That being said, I was surprised to discover that a man whose opinion on the topic of Italian beef I have always respected, took an opposite tack:

_“If Italian Beef was meant to be dipped, it would come presoaked swimming in a bowl of juice where the whole sandwich could be eaten with a spoon. Besides, a GOOD Italian beef sandwich would never come on a stale roll. Especially not at Portillo’s, home of the best Italian beef (and the best food in general) on the planet.”_ – My father-in-law

This statement shocked me to the very core. However, it did explain why my wife had no idea that Italian beef sandwiches could, nay, should be dipped. I am happy to report that she does side with me on this subject, however.

Clearly there is no more important subject by which to identify yourself as a Chicagoan that this. Sure, we can align via baseball team allegiance or even city vs. suburbs…but these demarcations pale in comparison to this most crucial of all personal definitions.

Where do YOU stand?

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