I had an opportunity to visit Wheeling, W.Va., this past weekend, and it was a chance to visit some old friends and some soccer people whom I either coached or played with over the years.
The Wheeling Food Tour
Whenever I come into Wheeling, the first thing I do is the famous “Wheeling food tour.” The tour consists of Coleman’s Fish Market, Lebanon Bakery, and then the nightcap, DiCarlo’s Pizza in Elm Grove. These foods I cannot find anywhere except for my hometown. Indeed, the food is delicious, but it provides more than just flavor and fulfillment. Have you seen the Disney movie “Ratatouille”? If so, remember when the mean chef tasted that poor man’s stew? As soon as he tasted it, it brought back memories of his childhood and the meals his momma prepared for him. Well, eating at Coleman’s and Lebanon Bakery harken back to my time when I used to work at the old Ray’s Car Wash (now Mike’s Car Wash). I would walk over to Coleman’s or the Lebanon Bakery during my lunch half hour and devour a delicious fish sandwich or meat pie.
Eating Pizza in a Parking Lot
But what really brings back memories for me (and I am sure you too) is a late night visit to DiCarlo’s in Elm Grove. Man, I love DiCarlo’s Pizza! That crispy crust with hot sauce offset by the cool, still-melting cheese and tasty pepperoni is reason enough to eat here often. But what it does for me, like that chef in “Ratatouille,” is bring back so many memories of eating here with my friends, soccer kids, and family! So many good memories come flooding back when I have this pizza. Think about it. Where else can you eat pizza in a parking lot, and nobody thinks you’re weird? You have to eat it hot and fresh from the oven. If, for some chance, you still have some to bring home, the taste changes, and it’s not the same experience.
The Memory Experience
Eating at DiCarlo’s is what I call a memory experience. It’s part of the “Wheeling Feeling,” a sense of hometown and friendship whenever I come back here. I love (most of) the people of Wheeling. I love seeing the recent positive changes in Wheeling, but I love the things that remain the same just as much.
I may have left Wheeling, but Wheeling is still in me!