Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day Tripping, Chapter 2: Philippe's, The Original

Lauren, my sister, plans out these trips.  Our original intention was to attend the LA Gift Show at the Convention Center.  Just as I am an aspiring writer, Lauren is an aspiring pastry chef. She can bake! (and a great cook too).  With the proper documents at hand, we were ready to mingle with true business people and gather ideas for proprietorship of my greeting cards and  her decadent sweets.  First stop though was lunch.  Not just any old lunch, but seeking out a special place, a famous LA landmark, existing since  the beginning of the 20th century.  Generations, including our own,  have tasted the scrumptious sandwiches prepared daily by this deli, Philippe's. You can check out their website at for more info,but I'll post a little history here copied from the site. 

Philippe's History

Philippe The Original is one of the oldest and best known restaurants in Southern California. Philippe's was established in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu, who claimed the distinction of having created the "French Dipped Sandwich." One day in 1918, while making a sandwich, Mathieu inadvertently dropped the sliced french roll into the roasting pan filled with juice still hot from the oven. The patron, a policeman, said he would take the sandwich anyway and returned the next day with some friends asking for more dipped sandwiches. And so was born the "French Dipped Sandwich," so called either because of Mathieu's French heritage, the French roll the sandwich is made on or because the officer's name was French. The answer is lost to history.

In an inconspicuous corner of China Town, there the crowds of locals (and some not so local) gather. Immediately caught up in nostalgia and simpler times, a  large room with many "picnic-like" community tables fill the space and lines of people wait for their own "carver" to take their order as they approach the counter. Decorated with classic photos of yesteryear, eclectic novelties and sawdust floors, the smells of the meats ready to smother the soft french rolls dipped in the juice of the roast is served quickly and professionally on paper plates with a dill pickle and a bag of chips. Satisfying!                             

It is always a busy place
Fuchsia toes, fuchsia flip flops...sawdust...
A history in LA  told in newspaper cutouts on plaques.

...and fuchsia, well pickled eggs!

Two things caught my photographer eye as we sat and ate our French Dips.  Behind me, along one wall, a row of telephone booths, made of varnished wood stood ready (in my imagination) for any cub reporter to slip in a dime and place a call to his editor, or a man with a hunch and a dream,  placing a quick bet on the horses at Hollywood Park. 

In the 1940's my mother came down here with her father, a shop owner himself in the jewelery district.  My grandfather also spent a lot of time at the stock exchange building.  They rode "the Red Car, " an electric trolley rail car, down to Philippe's to eat lunch. This glassed photograph shows exactly that scene. 

The second thing that truly stood out and amazed me, the counter right at the door.  The original wood and glass cabinet displayed and array of colorful candies and gums from days gone by and housed other memorabilia from the eatery.  
My grandfather always had Blackjack and Juicy Fruit gum at his house.

 With tummy's full, these two adventurous sisters (Lauren and I),  set out on the streets of LA, headed towards the Convention Center.  Camera in hand, I snapped away at many more interesting and iconic sights before we found the parking garage. Our adventure and photography continues in Chapter 3. 

Philippe's, the Original.  Hmmmm,seems I know of another "original Phil, well his name is Phillip, one of the original twelve apostles of Jesus.  When Jesus started his ministry, many people heard of his reputation and great teachings. He soon had many people "lined up", waiting to be "fed,"   spiritually.  On one of these occasions, when Passover season was at hand and many traveled into town for this celebration; a very--- very large crowd gathered to hear Jesus speak and hopefully see or be a part of these miracles they heard about.

Jesus became concerned about the crowd and their physical appetite, asking Philip where to get the best bread.  Jesus knew already of course, He planned the menu! Philip, after looking into his satchel,  told Jesus that the few denarii available to purchase lunch for all these people, came up short.  Andrew though, saw a young boy who brought along a picnic basket filled with five loaves of bread and a two fish. The soft green grass soon became the crowd's community table. Taking the bread and fish, Jesus gave thanks.  Philip and the other disciples now became Christ's "carvers", taking orders and handing out meals to the multitudes. Over 5000 became satisfied that day, in their tummy and hopefully in their hearts, for they tasted a miracle that day. I venture to say, that hilltop got an "A rating."

Matthew 14:14-21
John 6: 1-13.

I hope you find time in your busy day to savor the feast Jesus prepared for you. "Dip" into his Word.   "Give us this day Lord, our daily bread," and sandwiched in between is your promise: 

John 6:50. (NIV) "But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”


  1. What a "yummy" day trip! Thanks for taking me along for the ride through nostalgia and learning about the city I've lived in for years.

  2. Well, you did it again! All this talk about food and now I am so hungry. Thanks for sharing this little road trip of yours. It sounds (and tastes)like a very great time.